Skip to content

Allergies Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Reactions to Bee Stings

Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants belong to the same family of insects. The honeybee stings once, leaves its stinger behind after stinging, and then dies. This is in contrast to wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets, which can sting repeatedly and do not usually lose their stingers.

Reactions to stings may include:

  • A minor reaction with a bump, or wheal, at the site of the bee sting. Pain and itching may be present and may last from a few hours to a few days.
  • Large skin reactions that involve redness and swelling extending beyond the sting site. This reaction may affect an entire limb or large area of the body.
  • Severe life-threatening allergic reactions.
  • Toxic reactions, which are more likely to occur when you have been stung 10 or more times.
  • Serum sickness, a rare reaction to stings, that causes flu-like symptoms, joint pain, and hives beginning 7 to 14 days after an insect sting.

Home treatment is usually all that is needed for minor reactions to relieve pain and itching. Severe reactions require medical treatment.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised October 14, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 14, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
 
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?
 

blowing nose
Article
woman with sore throat
Article
 
lone star tick
Slideshow
Woman blowing nose
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat lying on shelf
Article
Allergy prick test
VIDEO
 
Man sneezing into tissue
Assessment
Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching
Quiz