Often a bee leaves its stinger behind when it jabs into the skin. Carefully remove the stinger by scraping it with a credit card. “If you pull it out with tweezers or your fingers, you may accidentally squeeze the stinger’s venom sac and inject the rest of its venom,” says L. Gail Curtis, MPAS, PA-C, a physician assistant and board chair of the American Academy of PAs. Next, clean with soap and water and apply a cool compress. Hydrocortisone or calamine cream can help relieve pain and itching. After a sting, watch for signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives and swelling away from the site of the sting. If you see these, check with your doctor about how to respond. Swollen lips and/or throat, dizziness, and difficulty breathing or swallowing could all be signs of anaphylaxis—a life-threatening allergic reaction. Call 911. Here are other dangerous bugs to watch out for in the summer.
You can treat mosquito bites similarly to bee stings, although you won’t have to worry about a stinger left behind (and severe reactions are rare). Check out these surprising home remedies for mosquito bites.