First of all, try to avoid getting stung, says Mississauga-based pharmacist Tommy Lam. “Bees don’t attack unless provoked, but they are attracted to certain odours and sugary foods,” he says. It’s a good idea to skip the scented body lotion and keep food and drinks covered when you’re eating outdoors in the summer months.
If you do get stung, the most important thing to do is to remove the stinger as soon as possible, Lam says. “You can use the edge of a credit card to push the stinger out, or do your best to pull it out with your fingers if you don’t have a credit card handy.”
Once the stinger is out, run water on the area and dress it with a clean bandage. Taking an allergy medication, like Benadryl, will help reduce the pain and swelling. (An April 2014 study from Cornell University found two of the most painful places to be stung are the nostril and upper lip, while the least painful are the skull and upper arm.) If you experience serious pain, fever or extreme swelling, see a doctor as soon as possible. There are several different species of bees and wasps and sometimes you won’t know whether you’re allergic to them until you get stung.
This article was originally published in Canadian Health & Lifestyle.