How to Treat a Sweat Bee Sting

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Sweat bees extract nectar from flowers to make nectar.
Sweat bees extract nectar from flowers to make nectar. (Image: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Sweat bees are a general name given to the many types of small bees attracted to the moisture and salt in human sweat. These non-aggressive bees build their nests in the ground or rotting trees to fill with nectar and prepare a place for raising young. Even though sweat bees generally do not exhibit aggressive behavior, their mild stings are a common result of swatting or squashing a bee that's buzzing nearby.

Things You'll Need

  • Credit card
  • Soap
  • Towel
  • Washcloth
  • Bowl
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • Spoon
  • Pain reliever

Scrape the stinger out of the skin with the edge of a credit card, then discard it in the trash. Trying to pull the stinger out with your fingers can result in unintentionally squeezing more venom into the skin.

Swipe the card over the surface of your skin to remove the stinger.
Swipe the card over the surface of your skin to remove the stinger. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Wash the stung area gently with soap and water. Pat the skin dry.

Soak a clean washcloth with cold water from the tap. Wring out excess moisture before placing the cold compress over the bee sting. Leave the compress in place for 20 minutes or more, to soothe the area and reduce swelling. Rinse the washcloth under cool water, as needed, to keep it cold.

A cool washcloth makes an effective cold compress.
A cool washcloth makes an effective cold compress. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Dry the skin with a clean towel. Mix a paste of 1 tsp. baking soda and enough water to create a paste the consistency of cooked oatmeal. Apply the baking soda paste to your skin and leave it there for 20 minutes to relieve pain.

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to ease pain from the bee sting.

Tips & Warnings

  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or bug bite lotion, in place of the baking soda paste, to relieve itching and swelling.
  • Oral antihistamines can also provide relief after being stung by a sweat bee.
  • If you are allergic to bee stings, keep your epineprhine autoinjector with you at all times. Teach those who are with you how to use it in the event you cannot inject yourself.
  • Avoid the temptation to itch or rub the bee sting area as this increases swelling and irritation.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for someone who exhibits extreme swelling, difficulty breathing, dizziness or fainting after a bee sting.

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