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  • Treating Insect Stings

  • If you have been stung by a bee, wasp, hornet or other insect:

    1. Remove the stinger as quickly as possible. The best way is to scrape it with an object, such as a credit card or fingernail. Generally, do not squeeze the stinger out because it may force more venom into the area. Recent research suggests that removing the stinger quickly is more important than how you remove it. Often, the stinger continues to pump venom after the insect is gone; the longer the stinger is left in the skin, the more severe reactions tend to be.
    2. Wash the sting area with soap and warm water.
    3. Treat the bite or sting with an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or a homemade paste of baking soda and water to reduce the itch.
    4. For more uncomfortable side effects, such as swelling or aching, try an over-the-counter antihistamine. Be sure to follow dosage directions. If symptoms don't begin to subside in a day, contact your physician for treatment advice.

    When to get more help

    Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of an allergic reaction or if you have a history of allergic reactions to stings. 

    If you have had a severe allergic reaction to a past sting, you should carry a bee sting kit, which includes an epinephrine self-injection. If you use the injection, you should still seek medical attention immediately afterward.

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