Bee stings are one of the hazards of summer fun, especially if your plans include a trip to the country. Unless you or your child is allergic to bees, there is no threat in getting stung by a bee other than the pain and perhaps some redness and swelling at the site. While there are specific medicines recommended to treat bee stings, there are also old-fashioned home remedies that may come in handy if your little one has gotten stung and you don’t have a first-aid kit handy.
While it is standard first aid to place ice on a bee sting to relieve the swelling, you may find yourself with a crying child and no ice in the freezer. A cold can of soda, a frozen ice treat or a chilled, wrapped sandwich can be held against the sting site and will give the same results. On a more humorous note, folk remedies of the past have included placing a hunk of raw meat on the sting, taping a penny (or silver coin) over the spot, and pressing against the area with the flat side of a pair of scissors.
Many old timers have their own preferred remedy for bee stings. A drop of witch hazel, honey, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil or lavender essence will relieve the pain of a bee sting and are all safe to use unless the person has a specific allergy to a particular ingredient.
Historically, many topicals were used to treat bee sting, including using a mixture of whiskey and ammonia, castor oil, turpentine, saliva, and the juice from honeysuckle stems. While none of these will actually harm you, we recommend you shy away from trying them out on your child.
A poultice is typically a paste that is daubed onto a bee sting. The simplest is perhaps to dab toothpaste on the spot; a poultice made of equal parts vinegar, baking soda and meat tenderizer works well. Other effective poultices are to pack the sting with a slice of papaya, cover it with honey or pack it in mud. It is no longer recommended that a bee sting be treated with fresh cow manure, a plug of tobacco, ear wax, or clay thinned with urine. No historical notes have been recorded on older cow manure being effective, whether a plug of tobacco should be fresh or chewed, whether earwax should be fresh or aged, or how much or what type of urine works best with clay.
- bee mine image by Stormy Ward from Fotolia.com