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For most people, a bee sting is just a nuisance. You may experience temporary pain, redness, and itching at the sting site, but no serious complications.

Unless you’re allergic to the bee’s toxin or experiencing signs of a severe allergic reaction, you can treat most bee stings at home.

In addition to basic first aid, certain home remedies have long been believed to soothe inflamed skin and reduce itching. These include applying honey, witch hazel, and even toothpaste!

Bee stings are often treated with a combination of both traditional first aid and home remedies.

Several of the most common at-home treatments for bee sting symptoms aren’t supported by scientific research. Yet they’ve been passed down for generations and continue to be popular.

It’s important to remember that none of these home remedies should cause more pain or make the sting worse. Should this happen, stop and clean the sting with soap and water, and don’t try that approach again.

1. Honey

Honey may help with wound healing and infection prevention.

2021 research reviewTrusted Source reported that medical-grade honey (MGH), including Manuka honey, has proven to lower inflammation and have strong antimicrobial properties. This means that MGH can help repel bacteria and fungi. It’s less clear whether other traditional honeys have such effects.

Honey is also believed to release oxygen into wounds to aid healing and help flush out dead tissue.

To treat bee stings with MGH or household honey, apply a small amount to the affected area. Cover with a loose bandage and leave on for up to an hour.

Here are more articles on using honey:

2. Baking soda

A paste made of baking soda and water can help with a variety of insect bites and stings. It’s believed baking soda can neutralize bee venom, reducing itching and swelling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives the following recipeTrusted Source for baking soda paste to calm mosquito bites. Many people also use it for bee stings:

  • Mix 1 teaspoon water with enough baking soda to make a thick paste.
  • Rub the paste over the affected area.
  • Leave on for 10 minutes.
  • Rinse off.

Another suggestion is to cover the paste with a bandage to help it take effect and leave it on 15 minutes before washing it away.

3. Toothpaste

There’s no real scientific evidence that toothpaste can help bee stings. However, people claim that the alkaline toothpaste (low pH) neutralizes the acidic honey bee venom (high pH). If this is true, however, toothpaste won’t work on wasp venom, which is alkaline.

Similar to baking soda, it’s believed that toothpaste will draw out venom. Mint types are also said to provide a cool, soothing effect.

Either way, toothpaste is an inexpensive and easy home remedy to try. Simply dab a bit on the affected area, and wipe away after 10 to 20 minutes.

4. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is used for a wide range of health and wellness purposes, from improving skin conditions to helping manage diabetes. While not all of its uses are supported by research, it’s a scientifically-backedTrusted Source antibacterial.

Some people believe apple cider vinegar can neutralize bee venom, prevent infection, and lower inflammation.

Soak the site of your bee sting in diluted apple cider vinegar for at least 15 minutes. You can also wet a bandage or cloth in the vinegar and then apply it to the sting site. Stop this approach if it causes irritation.

5. Aspirin paste

Another long-standing home remedy for reducing the discomfort of a bee sting is to apply wet aspirin — or aspirin paste — to the sting site. This consists of crushing up an uncoated aspirin tablet and mixing the powder with water into a paste.

However, a 2003 studyTrusted Source concluded that applying aspirin topically to bee or wasp stings didn’t hold up when tested. The aspirin paste actually increased redness among participants and didn’t decrease the duration of swelling or pain. Ice was determined to be a more effective treatment.

6. Plant extracts and essential oils

These naturally occurring topicals are associated with wound healing and may help relieve symptoms of a bee sting.

Some of the support behind these remedies is anecdotal. However, research indicatesTrusted Source that aloe vera and witch hazel do have proven anti-inflammatory properties. They often appear as ingredients in many skin care products and other wound-healing topicals.

Here are some natural remedies to consider:

  • Aloe vera has a variety of uses, including soothing irritated skinTrusted Source. You can buy the gel or make your own if you have an aloe plant. Simply break off a leaf and squeeze the gel directly onto the affected area.
  • Witch hazel is a natural astringent and antiseptic. It’s considered a go-to home remedy for insect bites and bee stings that can prevent infection, and reduce swelling and pain. Apply witch hazel (which comes as a clear liquid) directly to the bee sting as needed.
  • Calendula cream is an antiseptic used to heal minor wounds and ease skin irritation. Apply the cream directly to the sting site and cover with a bandage.
  • Lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory abilities and can help relieve swelling. Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil. Dab a few drops of the mixture onto the sting site.
  • Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and may ease bee sting pain and prevent infection. Mix with a carrier oil and apply a drop to the sting site.

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