Removing the stinger as soon as possible and applying a cold compress prevents a bee sting from swelling, as stated by Mayo Clinic. Hydrocortisone creams or oral antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, can reduce swelling after it has started.
It only takes a few seconds for the venom from the stinger to enter the body, as Mayo Clinic states. For this reason, removing the stinger quickly, using fingers or tweezers, is essential to prevent a reaction. The next step is to wash the area with soap and water and apply a cold compress to reduce itching and swelling. Medicated treatments are also available in the form of creams or oral medicines. Calamine lotion is a useful topical medication that helps relieve itching. Diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine are oral antihistamines that help reduce itching and swelling. Scratching the area of the sting can significantly worsen the pain and swelling.
Insect allergies affect 5 percent of the population, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. If the swelling becomes severe or there are other symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, the patient requires immediate emergency services. Emergency medications, such as epinephrine (EpiPen), can prevent these reactions from becoming life-threatening, notes Mayo Clinic.