When Bugs Bite: Insect Sting Treatment

You may hear and see that insect buzzing, but before you can make your escape, you’re stung!

In the spring and summertime especially, the air is full of them – bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and more. And then there are the crawling insects that bite –mostly ants.

It’s estimated that around 2 million people are highly allergic to the venom of these insects and experience serious reactions. Some of the most serious include trouble breathing, wheezing, dizziness, nausea, hives, and, in some cases, anaphylactic shock, which causes swelling of the throat and a drop in blood pressure and may be fatal. Approximately 50 people die yearly from anaphylactic shock caused by an insect sting. If you know you are allergic to the bite of an insect, or if you begin to develop serious symptoms, it is very important to seek emergency medical care immediately.

Insect Sting Treatment

Fortunately, most of the population is not highly allergic to insect bites and only suffer with a little pain, itching and slight swelling. In that case, the following remedies can help to take the bite out.

1. Remove the stinger.
Certain types of stingers will lodge into the skin, such as those from bees and most yellow jackets. It is important to first remove the stinger to keep more venom from entering the skin. Try scraping the stinger out with the edge of a knife, a credit card, or a fingernail. Tweezers may also work for removing a stinger. Avoid squeezing, as this will just pump more venom into the skin.

2. Apply baking soda.
Make a paste of baking soda by blending some with a small amount of water. Apply this mixture to the site of the insect bite and allow it to dry on the skin. This helps to relieve both the itching and swelling.

3. Apply unseasoned meat tenderizer.
Mix a spoonful of unseasoned meat tenderizer with a few drops of water and apply to the affected area. The enzyme known as papain found in meat tenderizer can help to draw out the poison and bring fast relief. It’s important to apply this quickly, before the venom is absorbed deeply into the skin. Consider carrying meat tenderizer with you if you are planning a day outdoors.

4. Ice it.
Rub an ice cube over the sting to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

5. Take an antihistamine.
An over-the-counter antihistamine can help to relieve both swelling and pain. Benadryl is one such product, but there are several on the market.

Herbal Insect Remedies

If you like using herbs for medicinal purposes, try the following for an insect sting:

1. Bayberry
Apply a poultice made from the root bark of bayberry.

2. Comfrey
Mash the fresh comfrey leaves in a blender and apply to the bite.

3. Echinacea
Commonly known as purple coneflower, parts of the plant or Echinacea extract may be applied to the bite to provide fast relief.

4. Goldenrod
Apply crushed fresh leaves to the insect bite.

5. Mint
Lay crushed mint leaves on the bite for relief of stinging and itching.

6. Plantain
Apply a fleshy plantain leaf or crushed leaves to relieve itching.

Avoiding a Sting

In the future, try the following tips and hopefully you can avoid being stung.

  • Wear light colored clothing; avoid wearing brightly colored clothing.
  • Go without the perfume or cologne.
  • Eat garlic and onions so you don’t smell so great to insects. Taking Vitamin B6 will serve this purpose also.
  • Save the flashy jewelry for an indoor get together.
  • Keep shoes on outdoors to avoid stepping on a honeybee or other insect.
  • Keep picnic food covered as much as possible to avoid attracting insects. The same goes for trash cans.
  • When you see an insect, avoid the temptation to swat and it and wave your arms about. This will only make it mad and more likely to sting.


These insect sting remedies should provide at least some relief for the pain, itching and swelling of an insect bite. Remember if you are experiencing serious side effects, seek emergency medical care. Allergic reactions to insect bites can be life-threatening.


If you have a remedy for insect bites and stings please share below!

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