For most people, a bee sting hurts for a few hours and then gets better. If you’re allergic, you may have a more serious reaction. For some people, that’s more severe swelling at the site of the sting. A few people can have life-threatening symptoms -- even if they've never had an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Half of all people who die of bee stinganaphylaxis did not know that they had an allergy.
Here are the most dangerous symptoms to watch for:
If you have these symptoms, use an epinephrine injection (Auvi-Q or Epi-Pen) if you carry them with you (always carry two). Then call 911 immediately. You still need to go to the hospital, even if the shot appeared to work. Do not hesitate to use the epinephrine auto-injector if you start showing any symptom of anaphylaxis. Even if the symptoms turn out to not be allergy related, using the auto-injector as a precaution will not harm you.
If you have never had a severe reaction to a sting before, and you just have itching, redness, and swelling right around the sting site, but are otherwise OK:
Put ice on the sting off and on (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off). Use a towel. Don’t put ice directly on your skin and don’t use heat.
If you're allergic to bee stings, ask your doctor if you should carry epinephrine shots with you at all times. Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.
Also talk to your doctor about allergy shots, or immunotherapy. It’s a way to very slowly get your body used to an allergen -- in this case, insect venom -- so you won’t have as bad a reaction if you’re stung again.
To prevent stings:
Avoid wearing sandals or walking barefoot in the grass.
Don’t swat at or run from bees. Gently brush them away or wait for them to leave on their own.
Don’t drink from open soda or cans. They attract bees.
Cover outdoor garbage cans with tightly fitting lids.
Avoid sweet-smelling perfumes and colognes and brightly colored clothing, which attract bees.
Be careful when doing yard work. Wear socks and shoes and gloves.
Use screens on doors and windows.
Keep car windows closed when driving.
Wear long pants and long sleeves outdoors. Reduce the amount of exposed skin.