As long as humans have played and worked outside, they have had to contend with bug bites and stings. Although there are a number of products on the market that can be used to treat these injuries, there are a lot of home remedies that are a lot less expensive and just as effective.
The cheapest and easiest home remedy to use for both bits and stings is ice. In the case of a sting, make sure to remove the stinger first. While many people believe the old wives’ tale that removing the stinger may cause the venom sack to erupt and cause more pain, this statement has not been supported by any research. Nonetheless, it is generally a good idea to use tweezers and be carful not to break the stinger. This will leave the stinger buried in the skin, forcing the body to treat the stinger as foreign object. If this happens, the wound will take longer to heal, but there is no reason to panic. If you need to, it’s ok to apply some ice to the wound in order to numb the area before removing the stinger.
After any stingers are removed, treat the wound area with an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin. After this, apply ice wrapped in a washcloth directly to the injury for about fifteen minutes. The ice will cool the skin and numb the pain. It should also slow blood flow to the area which, in turn, will reduce swelling. If the area start to turn blue or purple, or the area becomes so numb that it hurts, remove the cold pack for a few minutes.
If ice is unavailable or not working, try using toothpaste. Again, be sure to remove the stinger and apply an antibiotic paste or lotion. Then, apply a dime-sized amount of toothpaste directly to the sting or bite. Many commercially available toothpastes contain glycerine, which works to dry out or neutralize any venom that was injected into the wound. It should be noted that many people report a tingling sensation when using this remedy, and in a very small number of cases people have reported having an allergic reaction to the toothpaste.
If neither of these remedies work, try a paste of vinegar, baking soda, and meat tenderizer. After removing any stinger and applying the antibiotic ointment, apply this paste. Note that it should placed on the wounded area as soon as it is mixed. Due to the acid and base interaction of the vinegar and baking soda, the paste will fizz as soon as it is mixed. The paste works by providing an alkalide to neutralize the venom (the baking soda) and an acidic substance to disinfect. The meat tenderizer contains papain, an enzyme found in papaya that will break down the toxins in many different types of venom, including bee venom.
No matter which method you choose, make sure to clean the area again after you’re done. If the area continues to itch, use an aloe lotion every few hours until the itching subsides. You might also want to try an over-the-counter hydrocortizone cream.