Bee Stings


Experience From - John Thieme , Rich Schick , Pat Wellington , George Parrott ,

John Thieme

This past Saturday I was stung by what I think was a yellow jacket on the quad of my right leg. The sting occurred early in our run (~mile 8 out of ~17.)

I had no problem during the rest of the run except for the usually pain involved with a sting nor did I have trouble during the rest of Saturday. When I awoke on Sunday AM I had red, hot, swollen patch around the sting. During church it started to bother me more and when I got home the red, swollen and hot area around the bite had grown to the size of a dinner plate.

It was bad enough that I went to the ER. The doctor was worried that the redness and swelling might be a sign of infection and prescribe and antibiotic and suggested that I continue to take Benadryl.

I have never had a reaction like this to a bug bite/sting before. It has been suggested that because I stung once or twice in Leadville last weekend this reaction was more extreme.

I am seeking advise in the following areas:

  1. What else can I do to help reduce the inflamation and pain/itching?
  2. Is this an injury that I can run on, or will exercise increase the recovery?
  3. Is it true that numerous stings create a more extreme reaction?

Rich Schick

In response to John's questions...

  1. The antibiotic was most likely not needed, but then again will most likely do no harm. Taking benadryl, heat to the area, and elevating it will help it go away quicker. If you can get one of the newer antihistamines, especially Zyrtec or Allegra, they are also very good.

  2. Definitely, the increased blood flow will help clear the toxin and the action of the muscles will help clear the edema.

  3. No, generally speaking what you see is what you get. There are a lot of differences in bee venom, you probably just got hit with one you were a bit more sensitive to. I tell patients that swelling has to cross two major joints to be deemed an abnormal reaction. That would be a sting on the hand causing swelling above the elbow; on the foot to above the knee.

Pat Wellington

A couple of years ago I was stung just below the elbow while running up a steep exposed hill on Mt. Tam on a hot Sunday morning in September. I didn't see what stung me; I just heard a loud buzzing sound and felt a painful bite. It really hurt and there was a large red mark immediately. Whatever it was, it was no ordinary Bumble Bee!

Sunday night my arm started to swell and continued to swell all day Monday from the point of the sting just below the elbow all the way down to my wrist, which also swelled so badly that I had to leave my long sleeved blouse unbuttoned and couldn't wear my watch. My arm continued to swell on Tuesday, when I just happened to have an appointment with my doctor (Gyn). I had researched all my old first aid books and somewhere it suggested putting baking soda on the sting to draw out the venom. The only problem is you need to apply the baking soda immediately upon being bitten in order for it to be effective! My doctor agreed that he could give me something, but at this point I might as well let the swelling takes its course. My arm actually continued to swell on Wednesday and finally started to go down on Thursday (I put these things on my calendar!).

When the swelling finally started to go down, there was a large red ring marking the swollin area for several days. After this experience, I meant to start carrying a bug bite kit or baking soda, but still haven't gotten around to it. Then last year while running with my Mt. Tam Trekker Saturday morning running buddies, I was stung by several bees when we somehow ran through their hive area and the same thing happened to my arm, only to a lesser degree. I just never learn!

What really scared me is that I was a big fan of the early Friday night X-Files where Mulder and Scully always had an intelligent scientific explanation for all happenings, no matter how bizarre. And many of these stories featured exploding body parts, critters growing out of body parts, etc. etc. I just kept looking at my expanding arm and wondering at what point I should panic.

George Parrott

YES, it is true with additional "exposures/stings" your reaction is likely to get worse/more extreme.

One of our club women has such an "extreme sensitivity" to bee stings, and she is forced to ALWAYS carry her own emergency medical kit! Check furher with your family doctor as this could be a serious potential future problem for YOU.