Bee Sting and Swelling Question

While checking on the garden Saturday, I was stung on the foot by a honey bee. I removed most of the stinger but finally gave up on the remaining portion because it was too deep into the skin to reach without tearing my foot apart in the process.

The next day the toe that was stung became swollen and itchy, as well as the front half of my foot. So far the swelling hasn’t receded any nor has it spread. Should I be concerned?

Also, is swelling a defense mechanism of the body? Should I allow it to continue or try to reduce it with ice or some other alternative?

Thanks in advance.

Oh, and I’ll assume any responses to be IANA Doctor.

I’m mildly allergic(however, allergies can disappear or get worse, and the last time I got stung was over 10 years ago) so that when I got stung in the fingertip(happened more than once, unfortunately), the swelling would immobilize my elbow and reduce movement in the shoulder for at least a week.

However, a bee sting is a small puncture wound and can cause an infection. Especially if part of the stinger is not removed.

I’d get it checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.

Beekeeper here.

Most people swell after become stung by a bee – it’s a normal reaction. While many people claim to be allergic to bee stings, very very few people actually are.

If you’re worried about it, see a doctor. But my advice is to just give it some time, and the swelling will disappear.

Now I’m one of those people who’s been claiming to have an allergy even though I’ve never been tested. My grandpa was a beekeeper and he considered my reactions to be abnormal(I got stung about 10-12 times in my life as a child).

Would you say a sting in the fingertip completely immobilizing the hand and the elbow with swelling for a week to be an allergic or normal reaction? Should I get tested in case it’s an allergy that got worse(i.e. could be life threatening if stung)?


When I was stung I’d go into anaphylactic shock and stop breathing. That’s an allergic reaction. :eek: Since then I had a series of injections of bee venum (twice a week for 18 months, very sore arms) to build up my resistance. I still carry an epi-pen.

It’s not a switch, turned on or off. You can have more serious reactions the more you get stung. I would definately get checked out by an allergist if you had a reaction like that groman.

Not sure if there’s anything to worry about ScubaSteve but you probably want to get that stinger out of your foot eventually.

That’s what I love about the SDMB: Ask a question about bees, get a response from a beekeeper. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the replies. The swelling is going down a little, but if it starts to get worse and move into my ankles I think I’ll make an appointment for the doctor’s office.


For future reference, remember that the barbed stinger has a venom sac attached, and it keeps pumping after the bee is dead and/or removed. If you swat the bee that stung you, you will force the full load of venom into your skin. You need to pull or scrape the stinger out without squeezing the bee’s rear end.