How To Relieve the Pain of a Bee Sting in Under 30 Seconds

This post comes from personal experience after having been stung by a Yellow Jacket two summers ago. Being a First Aid/CPR instructor I knew what to do and quickly treated myself.

Simply make a paste using Baking Soda and water and place it on the sting.

yellowjacket.jpg (According to Wikipedia, Yellow Jackets are actually wasps and not bees.)

Background
Two summers ago while I was outside on my deck, I got stung by a wasp for the very first time after accidentally placing my hand on it. The pain was intense. I noticed right away that it was Yellow Jacket as it fell to the floor and crawled away (until I smashed it).

In pain, I ran into the house and quickly made my baking soda and water concoction and rubbed it on my wrist. I looked at my watch to see how long it would take for the pain to go away.

The pain was gone in ten seconds. I couldn’t believe how well and fast it worked.

They now sell at your local pharmacy or drug store After Bite sting relief. The main ingredient: Baking soda. I bought one since I don’t usually carry around a box of baking soda.

Some important facts:

  • Yellow Jackets have straight stingers and can sting repeatedly whereas Honey bees have barbed stingers and can only sting their victim once.
  • Before treating a Honey bee sting make sure to remove the embedded stinger. Do not pull out the stinger either with your fingers or tweezers as this will cause more venom to be squeezed from the stinger sac into the sting. Rather, knock out the stinger by scraping the surface of the skin at a 45 degree angle with a credit card.
  • Honey bee venom is also acidic and can be treated by applying a baking soda paste as well.

-Update July 18, 2007-

For futher reading on treating bee/wasp stings check out this Wiki page: Bee Sting

The page discusses the various treatments for stings and mentions that these remedies have not been proven to be effective in scientific studies. This Wiki page cites this article published in the Journal of Toxicology.

-Update July 29, 2007-
If baking soda doesn’t work for treating the pain of the sting try either lemon juice or vinegar. This update is a result of one of the comments below from Robin.

July 29th, 2007 at 12:21 am
Actualy i just got stung by a yellow jacket. Vinegar worked- baking soda didn’t. So it seems yellow jackets conform to other wasps – alkaline venom.

My response was as follows:

I am absolutely sure the sting was from a yellow jacket. I first tried lemon juice but it had no effect. The baking soda worked.

Here is an interesting article I found that discusses the ingredients of both Bee and Wasp stings and respective treatments: Are wasp and bee stings alkali or acid?
It seems that they contain more stuff than just acid and alkali which might explain why we both had different results.

Upon further research, it seems that Yellow Jacket venom is indeed alkaline and not acidic. However, many websites recommend baking soda for treatment.

In fact, as I mentioned in the post, the product After Sting which is designed to treat both Bee and Wasp stings has Baking Soda as the main ingredient.

This post has been submitted to the July 16 issue of the Carnival of Family Life hosted over at Be A Good Mom and the July 28 issue of the Carnival of Healing hosted over at Wisdom of Healing.

Popularity: 67% [?]


94 Responses to “How To Relieve the Pain of a Bee Sting in Under 30 Seconds”

  1. Be A Good Mom » Carnival of Family Life Says:

    [...] Ellen presents How To Relieve the Pain of a Bee Sting in Under 30 Seconds posted at [...]

  2. Karen Says:

    Great article! My ds is petrified of any stinging insect after being stung 5 years(!) ago. It’s enough to make him go back inside if he even SEES one. Maybe I should get some After Bite so he at least knows I’m INSTANTLY prepared!

  3. Eric Says:

    Hi Karen, thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately, no amount of baking soda paste would help my 6yr old daughter. She would scream even more with the paste on.
    She becomes completely irrational when she gets hurt. Anything, bandaids, polysporin, pain relief, no matter what she’ll scream louder once the stuff is applied.

  4. HowToMe Says:

    This is great info! My youngest was stung at a zoo last Monday and aside from tears and a little swelling was fine. When I was stung in elementary school I remember someone putting chewing tobacco? on my arm. Anyway, I thought a compress was right. The folks at the zoo just gave me a wipe :-( Next time I’ll say please pass the Baking Soda.

  5. HowToMe Says:

    BTW, witch hazel is FANTASTIC for stopping itching from mosquito bites. Unbelievable, cheap and plentiful stuff.

  6. Eric Says:

    Thanks for the feedback HowToMe.

    From fire extinguishers to wasp sting relief, its crazy the amount of uses for baking soda.

    Witch Hazel? I’ve never heard of it but I’ll definitely give it a try. I never found the after-bites to work well for misquito bites.

  7. Joe Says:

    Did you mean honey bee venom is alkaline? You wouldn’t use lemon juice to neutralize acid…
    If it were acidic, baking soda would work also.

  8. Eric Says:

    Hi Joe,

    You are right. I just looked it up. My First Aid book confused me.

    “Wasp venom is alkaline, so apply vinegar or lemon juice.”

    But a Yellow Jacket is a wasp and yet its sting is acidic so this would mean their information regarding its classification is incorrect.

    I have made the appropriate changes above.

  9. Joe Says:

    Wow – this obviously isn’t CNN! ;-)

  10. JT Says:

    Sorry to get off subject, but Witch Hazel is an astringent, good also for getting rid of acne if you use a cotton ball and wipe it over the affected areas like you would with medicated Stridex pads.

  11. Steve James Says:

    Great post! I’ve been lucky that my last sting was about 17 years ago.

  12. Eric Says:

    Almost as lucky as going 32 years without getting stung. This is a good example of a good thing coming out of a bad experience. Because I got stung I was able to tell whether or not the procedure worked.

  13. HowToMe Says:

    Way to find a silver lining, Eric!

    JT, I have tried Witch Hazel for the purpose you mentioned for several months and wow, it works great! Several Frugal types said it works as well as Proactive. Additionally, I’ve heard it is the main ingredient in aftershaves and hemorrhoid wipes.

    Eric, Witch Hazel works on nearly every insect bite I’ve gotten since moving to the “woods.” It is really impressive to be in such a blah looking bottle and so inexpensive. I’m glad you are willing to give it a try :-) Enjoy!

  14. Robin Says:

    Actualy i just got stung by a yellow jacket. Vinegar worked- baking soda didn’t. So it seems yellow jackets conform to other wasps – alkaline venom.

  15. Eric Says:

    Hmm… Interesting. I am absolutely sure the sting was from a yellow jacket. I first tried lemon juice but it had no effect. The baking soda worked.

    Here is an interesting article I found that discusses the ingredients of both Bee and Wasp stings and respective treatments: Are wasp and bee stings alkali or acid?

    It seems that they contain more stuff than just acid and alkali which might explain why we both had different results.

    Upon further search, it seems that Yellow Jacket venom is indeed alkaline and not acidic. However, many websites recommend baking soda for treatment.

    In fact, as I mentioned in the post, the product After Sting which is designed to treat both Bee and Wasp stings has Baking Soda as the main ingredient.

    Regardless, I think I should add your comment to the post so people are aware that baking soda may not work in all cases. Thank you Robin

  16. Jenny Says:

    I stepped on a bee once and got stung. Hurt like a bitch too. If they had this stuff when I was younger I wouldn’t have had to wait for my mom to make the baking soda.

  17. Eric Says:

    Yeah the foot could be a really painful place to get stung although not as bad as anywhere on the face.

  18. T. G. Says:

    Honey is a natural antidote for stings!! My mother was told about that when my brother, who is VERY allergic to stings, was a kid. His head would swell and have to be rushed to the ER. She tried the honey and the result was minimal swelling and no trip to the hospital. I recommend this to everyone……I even brought a bottle of honey to my children’s preschool after a child got stung and they used it for stings after that!!

  19. Eric Says:

    Thanks T.G. for the comment. I guess the only down side to using honey is that it would attract more bees.

  20. Anji Capes Says:

    It’s bee for bicarbonate and vinegar for ‘vasp’ (wasp)! :D

  21. How To Relieve The Pain Of A Bee Sting | First Aid & CPR Courses For Toronto Says:

    [...] This article was originally published on my parenting blog at Husbandhood.net [...]

  22. Randy Says:

    I’ve never tried vinegar or baking soda. I always use Meat Tenderizer and a little water. This has worked for myself, my kid and neighbors kid and kills the pain inside of 5 seconds for Yellow Jacket Wasp stings.

  23. A Recap of my 1st Wonderful Year using StumbleUpon | Social Desire Says:

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  24. SunnieSue Says:

    These are great discussions. So glad you all shared. Almost forgot my early learnings since have not been stung for awhile. Thanks. Going out to buy Witch Hazel, and grab a box of baking soda for my grandchild and her new 1st grade teacher. ( local honey is supposed to help for allergies).

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  26. carolyn Says:

    I just tried the vengar & baking soda neither worked I got stung 6 times by a yellowjacket. I know tobacca works I used it as a child. I just don’t have any.

  27. Lynn Says:

    I was stung on the bottom of my right foot. Hurts with pain considerately. Continual pain all day after also. The pain will not go away! I iced it for the swelling which helped the swelling but not the PAIN! It was a yellow jacket that some how got in my shoe and carried it into the house. Please help! What do I do? I’m older like in my 5o’s.

  28. Cathy Says:

    Got stung by a yellow jacket this morning. Baking soda did nothing. Read on another site to use WD40. It was stinging so bad that I tried it. Instant relief! Now swelling, just a large ugly red patch. Will was the WD40 off before leaving for work and then try some vinegar. It’s starting to feel a bit sore, but the mind-numbing sting is gone.

  29. Cathy Says:

    Lynn – I’m in my 50s as well. Try the WD40. You’ve probably got some in the garage. Spray directly on the spot or onto paper towel then dab it on.

  30. candace Says:

    i was stung an hour ago in the hand by a wasp… imediately iced it, applied some Benadry spray, took Benadryl and then rubbed it with baking soda paste… Took two Motrin..PAIN was the same as the moment it stung me…Husband just put the vinegar on and this is the first relief I’ve had from the pain…Perhaps different types of yellow jackets have different types of venom?

  31. candace Says:

    scratch that…it hurts like h-ll again…

  32. Eric Says:

    Hi Candace,
    I am beginning to get the feeling that there are different types of venoms and treatments for yellow jackets. I guess the order should be baking soda paste, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, witch hazel, wd40, ice, …

    Its also possible that the baking soda people are using is from an expired box that has been sitting in ones fridge for over a year.

  33. Sue Says:

    My daughter got stung by a wasp today and the first response at school was water on a cotton wool ball…..didn’t work. But baking soda did the job. Will have to try the witch hazel too.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    ha ha

  35. Anonymous Says:

    My wife was stung by a yellow jacket in the thumb today while collecting the mail. Seems like a very recent nest as we have not noticed all the bees before. She has been experiencing ALOT of pain. We tried baking soda and it offered zero relief. After applying vinegar it quickly relieved most of her pain. Still hurts but bearable.

  36. Eileen Says:

    This is good stuff, especially for someone that is allegice to bee stings. Eileen

  37. Bees stings Says:

    Toothpaste works great on bees stings,just gently put a little toothpaste on the stung area and let it dry.

    Hope it works for ya.

  38. Patty Says:

    It disturbs me that on a parenting site people are advocating the use of WD 40 to treat a sting. WD 40 is a petroleum-based product. It might work but the damage you are doing to your body far outweighs the benefits. Please don’t use this on kids.

    My husband got stung in the face by a wasp today. I tried the baking soda. No relief. I had him put vinegar on it. Instantly relieved the sting but not the pain. I had read using a blow dryer would dissipate the poison and relieve pain. So we tried that. It did seem to work a bit, but he still says it hurts. But he isn’t fussing about it now, so that tells me it is bearable. I don’t have any anti-histamines in the house. That will be the next step.

  39. Brian Says:

    I’m curious if some people aren’t confusing yellow jackets with another bee. I’ve been stung at least a half dozen times by yellow jackets, but never by just one of them. In fact, if I’ve ever been stung once, there have been at least 4 more stings to go with the first one each time. I guess no one has disturbed a nest?

  40. Anonymous Says:

    it is a relif that my pian form a bird is gon

  41. everett Says:

    i just got stung about 10 minutes ago from about 50 or more how do i stop the pain most of the stings r on my face and neck

  42. Justyna Says:

    Wow, many adults have never gotten stung. By the time I was eight years old I’d been stung six times. I’m absolutely petrified of any stinging insect.

  43. peewee Says:

    haha 50 stings beta have a baking soda shower

  44. peewee Says:

    u need drink wisky

  45. Maddy Says:

    Eric! Baking soda doesn’t expire, and you don’t need to keep it in the fridge!

  46. Gladys Says:

    I was stung three times on my ankles and I was on fire, then the pain was so intense it felt like someone broke my bones. I applied Ammonia as my doctor prescribed and it did not help. My husband kept saying to use baking soda paste but I didn’t heed. I should have. I suffered all day and night with pain that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

  47. jessika Says:

    well my mom got stong by bee and dose that really work

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  49. GrammaBrat Says:

    The After Bite I have in the cabinet has Ammonia and indicates that as the active ingredient.

  50. Kathy Says:

    my daughter was just stung three times on the stomach by a wasp stuck up in her shirt, ouch! Last time she was stung, my neighbor told me to put mustard on it and it helped before. I did the same thing again this time and it works instantly. Main ingrediant: Vinegar!

  51. mark Says:

    I was stung by a wasp yesterday on my wrist. It was a single sting that I got when bending over to pick a ball that was next to a ground nest. As happened once before, my arm began to swell at the rate of 1/2 inch increase in radius every hour. Eventually my arm stopped swelling when it reached up towards my elbow. My doctor prescribes benedryl, prednisone, and ranitidine for a few days.

  52. Lane Says:

    I was out at the river last week and was stung but an unknown insect (felt like a wasp). I had no first aid supplies but had just read a week earlier that the plant plantain (the weed, not the banana) was used for stings, cuts and scrapes so I looked around and low and behold on the side of the road it was growing. My arm had started swelling quick and burned bad. I chewed on the plantain leaves and applied. The pain and swelling disappeared in about 10 minutes. I felt great all day but my arm swelled up the next day… I think next time I will reapply a few times. It was great to have a remedy without a pharmacy or pantry at hand. Read more about it and to identify the plant http://www.sewisewomen.com/articles/plantain.php

  53. JULIA Says:

    thank you sooooooo much it made me feel wayyy better

  54. nod32 serial Says:

    I love you site

  55. Kim Says:

    Praise God! After 5 hours of pain, vinegar shut the pain off instantly. Thanks to all of the comments, I was ready to try skunk juice if neccasary. VINEGAR! Yeah!

  56. Kristen Says:

    Thank you so much for the discussion. I got stung on the bottom of my left foot 9 hours ago, and nothing helped except dunking my foot in ice water. But I couldn’t sleep.
    Just tried baking soda, washed it off, then vinegar, then baking soda. Still some pain, but nothing like I had been having. So thankful that maybe I can get some sleep now.

  57. Anonymous Says:

    I tend to used baking soda pastes for almost every ailment and in varying thicknesses of paste…sometimes as a dilute rinse…sore eyes etc.
    Yellow Jackets are not a wasp but are a hornet. Not sure when being stung how much we really care about that difference, but; a wasp always has that very narrow middle on them.
    These damned things are so aggressive and nasty. I was just stung twice…yet again this summer. Me thinks, they tend to enjoy stinging me and must have a big old hornet chuckle when they all get back to the ground nest in the eve.

  58. Michele Says:

    Got yellow jacket sting on bottom of foot. Put sting swab stuff on it … no help. Wish I had found this site earlier! Ice ALL NIGHT.. hurt Soooooo bad. 12 hours later and have to go to work. Still pain but bearable. Last night hurt so bad ….unbelievable how that little thing could do that. Maybe it depends on what they have been eating before they get you …..???

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  60. Anonymous Says:

    Mud also helps

  61. wow Says:

    i just got a bee sting and this 30 sec. really work but it was under my foot so i out news paper down and it was plenty good enough so thank you very much

  62. D Smith Says:

    Although baking soda is considered to be alkaline it acts more as a ph regulator by working to maintain a certain ph (which just happens to be slightly alkaline). This would explain how it could be recommended for both types of venoms since it could neutralize both phs but would probably seem to be a bit more effective with the acidic one.

  63. D Smith Says:

    This reminds me of one spring when I was walking out to my back house to wash clothes and there was this nest of yellow jackets. Not a big surprise in general this time of year since they it’s like a seasonal thing now…but what really bothered me is that this nest was hanging right off the top right corner of the door sill! Yipes! I made sure to move oh so cautiously (and to have all my limbs covered, lol) so as not to make them feel like I was going to attack. Thank God they never stung me nor even took off from their perch as I passed by SLOWLY, lol…but what i thought was interesting was how all of their wings would always perk up into this like alert position at the exact same time as if it was synchronized whenever I moved within a certain distance from them. If I moved back behind that point they would relax down in the same type of synchronized motion. As time went by I eventually was able to walk directly past at a fairly normal walking speed without them moving their wings into the alert state. But I eventually had to knock the nest down as I noticed that it was growing and they were laying eggs in there (or what looked like eggs anyway). But only partially by kind of breaking it…when none were around to see it. You know, so as not to draw too many suspicions, lol. (“Hey, a falling branch hit it!”) They seemed to move elsewhere after that and i was able to take the rest of it down later. Whew! A little up close and personal with mother nature…

  64. Lucy may Says:

    i been sting by a wasp i put vineger and i try to put baking soda it did not work.

  65. Patty Says:

    I have been stung by yellow jackets more times that I want to count. Over the years I tried all the recommended treatments. Baking soda, meat tenderizer etc. Only when I found this site did I see vinegar. I was stung about an hour ago (inside portion of my wrist) and went balistic as I know its usually 2 to 3 days before the misery is over. Severe pain, itching and swelling. Right before I found this site I had been reading another that recommended ammonia. Hmmm…Since I had never heard that before I was so thankful that I had it on hand. It was definetly a miracle. Pain, itching gone instantly and even the swelling is gradually going down. NEVER in my life have I found the relief I just witnessed. In listening to the vinegar discussion it certainly makes me wonder why 2 opposite components will work. Oh well I’m just sooo happy its better for work tomorrow. If I unfortunately get stung again I will try vinegar just to see but at least I know for sure what works for me…Yea!

  66. logan Says:

    I got stung 30 minutes ago on my ankle. I looked here got the things needed,I had taken out the stinger before I found this.but I put this on and in a few seconds most of the pain was gone,I love this stuff,it rocks.

  67. Eric Says:

    I am happy to hear this remedy works. From what I have read online, this baking soda mixture also works for mosquito bites.

  68. Christine Says:

    Never having been stung before I was surprised by how much that little sucker’s sting hurt. I Immediately googled “how to treat a bee sting”. Thanks to the originator of this post and everyone who made it so popular it popped up as one of first results on website search. Within seconds of applying the baking soda/water mixture pain was gone.

  69. jessica Says:

    i am 9 years old in 2012 im not sure what it was it was yellowish orangish it was tiny there was a whole group of them i was helping my dad mo the lawn by picking up sticks i bent down something really hurted so i ran but i fell so i got stinged agian it hurted so bad i cried i put butter loshin achol and evenmoisturizer,sween24.im still write now having trouble bye.

  70. Lisa Says:

    My daughter just got stung by what she reported to be a bee, but since no stinger left behind I’m guessing a yellow jacket. After howling and howling (she’s a bit of a drama queen when it comes to pain) I made the baking soda paste and ignored her for a couple minutes, then all of a sudden she’s “a little better” and wants to go back outside. So I assume the baking soda did the trick. :) Also gave her some ibuprofen and benadryl for good measure.

  71. claudette Says:

    Got bit by a yellow jack about a hour and a half ago tried the tobacco it ease the pain some. once I took it off the pain came back. trying the vinegar now .it seem to help but still feel some pain every time I take it off the pain comes back.

  72. help Says:

    Got bit by a yellow jack about a hour and a half ago tried the tobacco it ease the pain some. once I took it off the pain came back. trying the vinegar now .it seem to help but still feel some pain every time I take it off the pain comes back.

  73. Lissa Says:

    Just got stung by a yellow jacket for the first time in my life. Thanks to this site, I pulled out some apple cider vinegar, which is what I had on hand, put alot on a paper towel and pressed it on for several minutes. Almost instant relief!! The swelling was gone within five to ten minutes, as was the redness. The pain is now what I’d call minimal. Thanks for all the great information!

  74. George Says:

    I got stung at least 6-10 times last night, I was looking for a bees nest my gardener said was by a tree off my driveway.
    I stepped off the driveway, walked a few feet towards the tree, and OH DAMN! The dirt gave way under my foot and I was ankle deep in a nest!
    I had a hornet spray with me, plus a flashlight, (this was after dark), and I ran like a madman for the house while dowsing my legs with the spray, spraying over my shoulder, and wiping bees off my legs, all at the same time!
    I thought these were the africanized bees my gardener warned me about, spent a miserable night in pain, and had a bee removal company at the house at noon today.
    Guess what? It was a nest of yellows, and $200 later we have them gone.
    However, I didn’t know they were so nasty, and have applied every cure given by every person in the universe!
    Guess I’ll have to just let it run it’s course, maybe a good time to tie one on and anesthesize myself?
    Anyway, thanks for all the good comments and advice, I guess what works for one doesn’t work for all.

  75. Bill Says:

    Today while cutting grass I ran the mower over a Yellow Jacket nest in the ground.This resulted in many stings. I applied an old remedy of rubbing the areas with a BANANA PEEL. Have used this for years and get instant and complete relief.

  76. john Says:

    so no baking soda but the vinegar, lemon juice, and ammonia did provide relief. thanks

  77. Dee Says:

    This remedy did nothing but make a mess on my living room floor after the paste hardened and crumbled off

  78. Eric Says:

    @Dee
    Try not to use a whole box of baking soda next time. Only a tiny amount is necessary.

  79. Mike Says:

    Make a simple mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and Adolph’s meat tenderizer. Apply wet compress with a rubbing motion to get mix into sting wound.

  80. Bill Says:

    While weed wacking I disturbed a yellow jacket nest and was stung six times. I took a quick shower then tried rubbing vinagar as instructed. Didn’t work, so I will try baking soda.

  81. Bobby Says:

    Was stung yesterday. vinegar and ice worked. Ice in any event will help as the extreme cold helps break down the venom.

  82. joyce Says:

    i was stung today.use apple vinegar.and it help..alot thankyou did not have baking soda at the time.

  83. Linda Says:

    I was stung on the outside of my left foot this morning(it’s now 7pm, so it’s been 9 hours). After using Lanacaine spray, vinegar, baking soda, unkers medicated salve, afterbite, boudeauxs butt paste, chiggerex, I finally used ammonia and almost instantly the pain went away. A few minutes later I could feel the pain coming back. I take hydrocodone for another condition and it’s not even touching the pain.i just tried honey, no luck. I’ve got a banana peel and I’m fixing to try that. Something’s got to give. Nothing from the banana peel. I don’t have witch hazel or wd40. If it’s still swelling/pain in the morning, I’m calling my Doc. This thing hurts!

  84. Kitty Says:

    Tried most all of the above with no relief. Used Sensodyne toothpaste and experience relief within in a few minutes. I recommend it over baking soda and vinegar. Relived the pain after many hours and the next day, when the itching started, it relieved the itching!

  85. Megan Says:

    My niece stepped on a bee at a public pool…. Since we were not close to a house we used ibuprofen that I crushed up and some water…. She was good as new in just a few min.

  86. Kyaw Thura Linn Says:

    Thank you for your treatment
    It really really worked
    My pain had taken away and Thank You so much again!

  87. jordan parris Says:

    this is good info but my remidy works faster. it sounds nasty but trust me it works. find someone with a dip in and ask them to spit on the sting, then if u want was the sting area. as soon as the tobacco juice touches the sting you feel better. dont beleive me try it.

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  89. Pam Says:

    My boyfriend just got stung by several yellow jackets that came out of the ground. He has stings on his shoulder, chest, waist, and leg. I tried toothpaste first. No help. wiped it off and tried the baking soda paste, it soothed it some but they were still hurting him. So I tried Apple Cider Vinegar, helped only a little. I tried white vinegar, it helped a little. He says the baking soda paste works the best, so now they are all covered in the paste and he seems to be doing a little better. None of the remedies took the pain away completely.

  90. Sarah says Says:

    Its 4am in the morning, and still in pain… can’t believe. Stung on hand last night at supper time. Did use baking soda and vingar but didn’t really help much. Thanks for all the info… just tried meat tenderizer and seems better. Still how long does it take before pain stops?

  91. Anonymous Says:

    2 days ago I got stung I need help to make it go away please help.

  92. Riley says Says:

    2 days ago I got stung I need help to make it go away please help.v

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