If you have ever been stung by a bee, wasp, or hornet, you know the pain associated with these occurrences is not fun! In fact, once stung, a sort of PTSD sets in and anytime the buzz of a flying insect is heard – YOU RUN! Did you know that somewhere around 3.3% of the population is very allergic to bee & wasp stings? In fact, 40-100 people die yearly from anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is defined as an acute allergic reaction to an antigen such as a bee sting. I find myself in the aforementioned 3.3% which is why gardening can prove to be a bit of a challenge. Every gardener wants bees right? We plant flowers to draw them, allow veggies to go to seed for them, and avoid using chemicals that would harm them – all to PLEASE THE BEES! Bees & wasps have come to be frenemies of mine. While I adore observing them hard at work in the mornings and evenings, pollinating the veggies, I do try to keep my distance. The last time I was stung I had what I felt to be a severe reaction but in actuality it was a mild anaphylactic reaction. I was warned that if there were a next time, things could possibly be worse, fatal even. Due to a heart condition, the EpiPen that so many others carry, is not an option for me so I must be extremely cautious! Saturday, even with all of my cautious care, while picking tomatoes, I was stung! It was scary! I knew the wasps loved that area but in a rush to beat the rain, I became careless. I can’t say that I saw my life flash before my eyes or anything but there were certain steps that I knew I needed to implement immediately to decrease chances of a severe reaction. Here is what I did:
- Benadryl – I took Benadryl immediately. I keep the capsules on hand just in case. I drank with 8 oz warm water.
- Inspection – In my frantic state I forgot that wasp do not leave a stinger, so I inspected the sites for stingers.
- Hydro-cortisone Cream – My arm was on fire so I rinsed it with cool water, patted dry, and applied the hydro-cortisone cream to the entire arm. By this point the swelling was already so bad it was hard to tell where exactly the stings were.
- Ice & Elevation – My arm was still feeling as if it were on fire so I elevated the arm on two pillows and applied an ice pack.
- After Bite – After a few hours, I had fell asleep – the Benadryl. When I woke up the swelling had tightened. I applied After – Bite of which a main ingredient is baking soda. It was soothing as well.
- Cucumber – Yes I know it sounds odd but it works. The next day swelling has decreased but pain, burning, and itching were combating all at once on my arm. A thin slice of cucumber from the garden on the hot spots really helped cool the sensation.
- Aloe Vera – We have been growing it for some time. I firmly believe that every family should have at least one plant or have a reputable source for buying it. I happened to have 2 leaves on the counter so I cut a small piece, revealed the gel and applied it to hot spots. This helped the itching the most.
Although I am a nurse by trade, I advise anyone to talk to your medical professional before trying any of the above remedies. These things happened to work for me. 48 hours later I have some stiffness in my joints, especially the effected area, as well as some residual itching however, things are improving nicely – all without a visit to the ER.