How to Remove a Bee Stinger From the Skin

When a bee stings, it can leave behind a barbed stinger in your skin, causing pain, swelling and discomfort. There has been lengthy debate over which method is best for removing a stinger from the skin. However, research published in "The Lancet" in 1996 concluded that the method isn't important as long as the stinger is removed as quickly as possible. According to the University of California's Integrated Pest Management program, after a sting, venom continues to enter the body for 45 to 60 seconds. If the stinger is removed within 15 seconds of the sting, discomfort and the severity of the reaction are greatly reduced.

A man has been stung by a bee. (Image: Trish233/iStock/Getty Images)

Scraping the Stinger Out

Scraping the stinger out was once considered the best method for removing a stinger from the skin. All it required was a thin, flat object, such as a credit card or fingernail. You used the object to apply pressure around the area of the sting -- using slow, deliberate motions to avoid further irritation -- so the stinger was forced out of the skin. Bee stingers are made of tough material, so you shouldn't worry about breaking it in half. The main objective is to remove the stinger as quickly as possible.

Pulling the Stinger Out

If the stinger is visible on the skin, it is OK to use your fingers to remove it. Pinch the stinger between the thumb and forefinger and pull it out. Tweezers can also be used. It is a myth that squeezing the stinger as you remove it will puncture the venom sac and release more toxins into the skin.

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