Robin has been keeping bees and harvesting honey for many years. She enjoys being a backyard beekeeper.
Before and After Photos
What to Do if a Bee Has Stung You in the Eye
Being stung by a bee can be a very scary occurrence; if you are stung in the eye it can be days before you are back to normal. Being a beekeeper, I expect to be stung; it's part of the job. I didn't, however, expect to be stung in the eye.
This article includes:
- Information on treatments—both home remedies as well as prescriptions.
- A photo progression chronicling the recovery of my facial swelling from hours after the sting up to six days when I was almost fully recovered.
- Types of reactions.
- Information on how long the itching and swelling will last.
- Information on bee biology.
How to Treat a Non-Allergenic Bee Sting: Act Fast!
Being a beekeeper and going through extensive training, you learn how to properly remove bee stingers and treat stings. The sting that I had to my eye however, needed some medical attention. The advice that I give is from my training as a beekeeper and from the doctor that I saw. In most cases, doctor involvement is not needed for non-allergic reactions. However, if you are stung near your eye, you may choose to get prescription medication from your doctor.
- After a bee stings, a stinger and sac of venom is left behind in your skin. To reduce the amount of venom in your body remove stinger and bag of venom as quickly as possible. You can SCRAPE the stinger and bag of venom out of your skin with a fingernail or other similar object. Do not pull out stinger or squeeze the location as more venom can be released. The longer that you leave in the stinger, the more venom will be left in your body causing swelling and itchiness.
- Once the stinger is removed, wash area with soap and water and apply antiseptic and soothing cream like hydrocortisone.
- If possible, and if over two years of age and not pregnant, immediately take an antihistamine, e.g., Benadryl, to reduce swelling and itching. (When I was stung on my finger, I had minimal swelling and itching because I took a Benadryl immediately. I did not take a Benadryl shortly after my facial sting because I didn't want to fall asleep. It was a big mistake.)
- Apply ice pack to site to reduce swelling and for pain relief.
- For additional pain relief, you can take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen.
Over-the-Counter, Prescription, and Home Remedy Bee Sting Treatments
|Over the Counter||Prescription (The doctor that I saw recommended the following treatments)||Home Remedies for Bee Stings (apply to site of sting)|
Soap and water
Dexamethasone (Decadron) a corticosteroid to treat allergy. It decreases your body's natural defense response and reduces symptoms such as swelling and allergic-type reactions
Meat tenderizer and water paste
Famotide (Pepcid) an H2 Histamine blocker.
Hydrocortisone Cream or Calamine Lotion
Hydroxyzine (Atarax) treats itching. Blocks natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction. Causes drowsiness.
Benadryl or other Antihistamine
Baking soda and water paste
Chewed plantain leaf
Crushed basil or parsley leaves
These treatments are NOT for those that have severe allergic reactions. For severe allergic reactions, epinephrine will need to be injected to stop the progression of symptoms.
Severe allergic reactions can result in death within minutes of being stung. Having an Epi-Pen on hand if you are allergic to bees is a must. I had a reaction to the sting that was fairly severe, mainly due to the location of the sting on my eyelid. I, however, did NOT have an allergic reaction to the venom. It is very rare for someone to be allergic to bee venom, however, around 50 people a year die from a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting.
Medications I Took After the Bee Sting
This treatment was under the advisement of an emergency room doctor:
Day 1: Benadryl every 8 hours and ice.
Day 2: Benadryl in the morning. Was given prescription in the afternoon. Took 10mg of Dexamethasone (Decadron), one tablet of Hydroxyzine, and one tablet of Famotidine.
Day 3-6: Hydroxyzine and Famotidine until swelling and itching were gone as prescribed.
Three Types of Bee Sting Reactions and Symptoms
Pain at site of sting
Pain around site of sting
MEDICAL ATTENTION IS NEEDED IMMEDIATELY
Swelling at site of sting
Swelling can extend beyond site of sting. If stung in eye, could radiate to bridge of nose, down cheek, and to other eye
Difficulty breathing and swallowing
Redness at site of sting
Redness around site of sting
Face, throat and mouth swelling
Increased heart rate
Hives (red and itchy spots) beyond site of sting
Drop in blood pressure
Restlessness or Anxiety
The Progression of My Facial Swelling: Day One to Day Six After the Bee Sting
One of the scariest parts of being stung by a bee on your face is the reaction. I chronicled my progression as a guide for those that have been stung. It took about a week for my face to fully recover and there were a few days that were especially bad. If you've been stung, I hope your reaction wasn't as bad, but if it is, you will fully recover.
Day One: Day of the Sting
I was stung in the afternoon after going into my hive. I started swelling within an hour. If you've just been stung, make sure you remove the stinger quickly, take Benadryl as soon as possible, and ice the site of the sting. I also suggest calling your doctor to see if she/he will prescribe any of the medicines I recommend above.
Day Two: First Day After Sting
Eyelid where sting occured is completely closed in the morning. Began prescription medicine. Swelling begins to travel down my face, into my jaw, and across the bridge of my nose.
I have been taking prescription medicine for one day. Eyelid is open but bruising is more evident. Cheek, jaw, and bridge of nose are puffy.
Feeling a lot better today. Eyelid is almost completely open. Bruising and slight swelling is still evident.
There is still some swelling in my jaw, and I still have bruising under the eye. This was actually a difficult day to be seen because I looked like I was in a fight and not stung by a bee.
I'm almost back to normal. There's still slight bruising and swelling.
How Long Will the Swelling and Itchiness Last?
If you are stung on a sensitive part of your body like the eye or lip, it can take 5 to 7 days for the swelling to be completely gone. If you are stung on another part of your body (a hand, arm, leg, or foot) the swelling should go down in two to three days. However, in most cases you will have itchiness for up to a week.
The amount of swelling from a bee sting depends on:
- The location of the sting (areas of the body that are more sensitive like the lip or eye swell significantly more)
- Whether or not you promptly removed the stinger
- Your treatment of the sting immediately after you were stung.
How to Prevent Bee Stings
Worker honey bees sting for one reason: to protect the hive or themselves. Honey bees are usually not offensive animals; they sting if they are threatened. Simply letting the bee be, is your best course of action. The bee will eventually fly away, and you will be left without a sting and the bee will be back to its business of collecting nectar and pollinating your flowers. However, if you swat, hit, or step on the bee, it will most likely sting you. It is a natural defense mechanism.
Bees are fascinating animals. The hive works as one large superorganism; each bee has a job. Their role in the hive is predetermined by their age and what is occurring in and out of the hive. The bees that sting are either guard bees or forager bees. Bees near a hive sting to protect their home. Away from the hive, most bees will not sting if they land on you.
Beekeepers wear protective clothing for this reason. Guard bees protect the hive from intruders, whether they are a skunk or a human. Most beekeepers are not stung when they go in the hive because they take precautions. The two best defenses against bee stings are your protective clothing and smoke.
How Does Smoke Prevent Bee Stings?
For a beekeeper, having a good smoker is a must. Smoke does two main things: causes bees to consume honey rather than defend the hive and masks alarm pheromones. When a bee smells smoke it goes into survival mode. It is no longer protecting the hive because the hive is on fire. It instead gorges itself on honey to ensure its survival when it is time to fly out of the hive to safety. Smoke will also mask the alarm pheromone that bees emit when they are under attack. When a hive is "under attack" guard bees will raise their abdomen and release an alarm pheromone called isopentyl acetate. This pheromone is also released when a bee stings inciting other bees to follow suit to protect the hive. This alarm pheromone chemical is also found in bananas; this is why stings sometimes smell like bananas and a reason to never bring a banana near a hive or eat one before entering a hive.
Why Do Bees Die After They Sting?
Honey bees, worker honey bees to be exact, have barbed stingers. When a bee stings, its stinger is left in your skin as the bee flies away. Unless removed, the barbs in the stinger ensure that the stinger stays in your skin to release venom for the next 30-45 seconds. When the bee flies away, the stinger is ripped from the bees abdomen causing irreparable damage, and the bee will die.
Queen honey bees do not have barbed stingers so they will not die after they sting. They rarely leave the hive unless to mate or swarm, so it is incredibly unlikely to be stung by one.
Drone Bees, Stingers, and Mating
A drone bee's (male bee) only purpose is to mate with a Queen. Since they do not defend the hive, they do not have stingers. Drones will leave their hive to inseminate queens in an area called a Drone Congregation Area. They will fly 200 to 300 feet above ground attempting to inseminate a queen. While drone bees do not have stingers, their sexual organ is barbed. If they are one of the "lucky" ones to mate, they quickly die after mating because their sexual organ is left inside the queen and ripped from their body. The next drone to inseminate the queen must remove the last drone's sexual organ to inseminate her further. Queens will mate up to 12 times in their one mating flight from their hive.
A Week After the Bee Sting to the Eye
My Story of Being Stung
When I was stung, I had just gone into my hive wearing my beekeeping gear and hood. I was not stung while tending the hive and was fine. Unfortunately, while 10 feet away from my hive, I took off my hood and a bee landed on my eyelid. Had I left the bee alone I probably wouldn't have been stung. Unfortunately, I swiped away at my eye before I thought about what I was doing and was stung in the eyelid. While the sting itself didn't hurt very much, the next few days were a bit uncomfortable.
Searching online, I wanted to know what my next few days after being stung in the eye would be like. Would the swelling get worse or better in the next few days? Would both of my eyes close? Would there be pain and itching? When would I be back to normal? Since there wasn't any information, I thought I would chronicle what happened to my eye after I was stung and the mistakes that I made that impeded my recovery. I hope the information provided helped in your recovery!
Recovering From a Bee Sting
A week after the initial bee sting to the eye, I was completely recovered. While the site of the sting never hurt, it was unnerving not to have the use of one eye for a day, and my equilibrium was off. The closest thing that I can equate it to is claustrophobia. Not being able to open your eye is a troubling feeling. The balance issues could have been due to the medications, but I did not feel completely myself for about six days after the sting. Getting stung is never fun, but if you want to be a beekeeper, there are definite advantages: honey! If you have been stung, please leave your feedback below to help others that are experiencing the effects of a bee sting.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: Is it normal to have hardness around the affected area of a bee sting?
Answer: Swelling will cause your skin to be tight and hard, and there could also be fluid build-up, but I don't recall feeling that the area was particularly hard.
Question: If I was stung by a bee inside of my throat what would I do?
Answer: I am not a medical professional, but I would seek medical attention immediately in case of swelling. You don’t want your air to be restricted.
Question: How long does it typically take before the swelling is completely gone when you are stung around the eye?
Answer: The first few days after the sting are the worst. It can be a few hours before you will notice a lot of swelling, and it can take up to a week before you feel and look back to normal. After the swelling goes down, it is likely that you will have bruising that takes a few days to go away. Even if you were only stung near one eye, you may have swelling and bruising across the bridge of your nose into your other eye. Overall, it can take up to 7 or 8 days for a full recovery.
Question: What should I do immediately after I am stung on the face?
Answer: 1. Scratch out the stinger (do not pull it out)
2. Wash the site of the sting with soap and water.
3. Apply hydrocortisone cream.
4. If not pregnant and over two years old, take Benadryl. (It may make you drowsy)
5. Apply a cold compress.
Question: When should I see a doctor if I have been stung on the face?
Answer: If you are having difficulty breathing, if your mouth feels swollen and you are having a hard time swallowing, or if you are having an abnormal increase in heart rate, call 911. You could be going into anaphylactic shock.
Even if you aren't experiencing the above symptoms, you may want to see a doctor for prescription medications that help with swelling. Taking Benadryl will help, but if it's not enough, call your doctor.
Always, if you are ever in doubt, call your doctor.
Question: I was stung by a bee on my lip and it became really swollen. Is it possible that my lip could burst?
Answer: I recommend going to see a doctor if your lip is that swollen. It could crack, so you may want to put a lubricant like a vaseline on it.
Susan on July 14, 2020:
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I was stung on my eyelid and have had a similar reaction. Glad to know this is normal for a sting to the face and at 48 hours the swelling is better. I am also happy to know I did the right thing with icing and taking Benadryl quickly after being stung.
Rocky Coles on June 26, 2020:
Thanks for this I was just stung on the eyelid yesterday. It’s helped reassure me of what to expect
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on February 19, 2020:
Thank you, Victoria! I hope you never have to experience it, too.
Victoria Hannah from Sydney, Australia on February 18, 2020:
Oh My Goodness Robin, what an amazing article you have written. I did not know about bees dying after stinging someone, that is so sad. I cannot believe how puffy and red your lovely face became, the photos are fantastic. I also learned how to get the sting out...I hope I never need the advice but thank you for a fantastic read.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on January 19, 2020:
Hi Christa. Being stung in the face is so different than other parts of the body I hope you’re feeling better today!
Christa on January 17, 2020:
Thanks so much for chronicling this process. I’ve had bees for 3 years and only had previously been stung in the back of my arm around the armpit. Went outside after moving hives to watch them doing reorientation flights. Turned to leave and one landed on the bridge of my nose on the right side and got me there. Felt like I got punched in the face. Sting didn’t hurt but it gave me an instant headache. This was yesterday and I’m still slowly swelling so reading this was incredibly helpful.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 15, 2019:
Exhaustive article. Useful information. Thanks.
ANNI on September 01, 2019:
Thank you so much for sharing this! I got stung by a wrap in my eyelid yesterday morning, went to urgent care and got a Benadryl shot. The swelling went down, but this morning it was back
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 12, 2019:
Thanks, Anne for your comment. I can see why people think they are allergic when this happens, but you're correct in that it is the site of the sting and the toxin released. That being said, if anyone is concerned at all they should go to the hospital—especially if they are having a hard time breathing! Hope you're better soon!
Anne on August 10, 2019:
I was stung on my eyelid and am not allergic but have had the same type of reaction. It's funny to see all the comments telling you your wrong. It's simply the type of tissue that was stung along with how much toxin was released. Thanks for posting your story! Made me feel better about my sting. I too keep bees and have been stung many many times. It was just an unlucky spot that this guy hit.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on July 22, 2019:
Hi Charlene. Welcome to beekeeping! I now wear full protective gear and it's so much more relaxing! Good luck!
Thanks for the comment, Wesman Todd Shaw! Good to know about shellfish and wasp stings! It can be very scary.
Charlene on July 15, 2019:
I was stung yesterday right under my eyebrow and look the same as you! As a new beekeeper, I got a bit too cocky about keeping my feeder open with no protection. It hurt briefly but since has been SO ITCHY and is very embarrassing in public. Great lesson early on in my beekeeping about apiary safety. I was hoping to wake up looking normal tomorrow but I’m glad you set my expectations to be more realistic.
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on July 08, 2019:
WOW! Sorry that happened to you. You looked like my mother looked the last time she had inadvertently consumed something with shrimp in it.
I don't think I've been stung by a bee since I was small. I did get stung several times by yellow jackets out on a job. I went to a supply house to get some wasp killer, so I could go back to the job and finish it. The people at the supply house wouldn't let me leave, and instead said I needed to be taken to the ER. I couldn't see how my neck was swelling, and hadn't even thought about it.
Looks like recovery time for bee stings is longer than allergic reactions to shellfish, or wasp stings.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on July 08, 2019:
ljtost, thanks for your feedback. However, I have to respectfully disagree. It was a doctor that saw me and told me that my reaction was normal and NOT allergic; I did not come to the conclusion on my own. Of course, people may have different reactions depending on the sting site, how deep the stinger goes into your skin, as well as how you remove the stinger. Your forehead is much less sensitive than your eyelid or your lip. Being a beekeeper, I have been stung many, many times and I am absolutely not allergic to bees. After this sting, I've probably been stung 20 times and have never had a similar reaction because the stings were on my hands or other parts of my body that were less sensitive. I also recommend that people go see a doctor if they are ever concerned and definitely if they have trouble breathing. It is in bold at the very top of the article. So, while the reaction was intense and I did see a doctor for some medication, it wasn't an allergic reaction and was typical for the stinger site.
ljtost on July 07, 2019:
I have to agree with the person who commented that this type of swelling doesn’t occur in a non allergic patients.
I was stung by a bee just above my eyebrow. I had to leave the stinger in for several minutes because I was on a bike in the middle of a busy street. When I came home I searched for articles about bee stings in the forehead area. I was extremely worried after reading your blogpost which was kind unnecessary because I experienced no swelling whatsoever. I think you should add a PSA or something so other people who come across your story don't panic. Your advice is very helpful, but your reaction was not normal.
Danielle on June 25, 2019:
I was stung by a hornet on the eyelid(possibly more than once) and my reactions are very similar. It sucks!! Thank you for your story.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on June 18, 2019:
Hi Amy. Sorry to hear you were stung. I hope you're fully recovered soon. I have never been stung by a hornet, so thanks for sharing that information.
Amy on June 18, 2019:
You are awesome for posting this. I was stung in between the eye (bridge of nose) on Sunday afternoon and my eyes are now both swollen but not nearly as swollen as yours were. I have been taking Benadryl, ibuprofen and then icing it and my hope is that the swelling starts to subside by Wed. I have been stung By my sweet bees a few times so far but wanted to power through and not do the doc this time around. Hornets give me a more severe reaction but my little bees have seemed to only cause a localized reaction but mainly I was hoping to see the progression from another perspective
Ryan Smith on May 29, 2019:
I know you said you were not allergic however i think you are this type of swelling doesn’t occur in a none allergic patient
Betty Myers on October 15, 2018:
Thanks so much for your post! Was stung last week when husband brought in bees that were trapped in his suit! He was stung five times, but I got the worst in the forehead by my left eye. Figures we were celebrating my daughter's birthday and quickly did a quick fix of removing stinger and applying icepack. Took benadryl and ibuprofen; however, left eye swelled up fast! If it wasn't for your pictures, I would have freaked out! Thanks for telling about the second day being the worst so I was better prepared! Needless to say, my husband and I have new and better bee suits that will keep out the girls!
Amanda trivett on July 19, 2018:
My 14 yr old son got stung by a wasp right above his right eyebrow! There was a white spot where it stung him amd with in 30 min his face started to swell! I have never dealt with this before so i panicked! My husband got benadryl in him instantly i checked on him every hour and every hour his face swole more and more the day it was moving down his cheeks and so i took him to ER! they gave him an epi shot and more benadryl and with in 30 min he could open his eyes again! Today is day 5 still has some puffiness around his eyes but looking normal again! Ypu post help keep me calm! Thank you again! And for parents i was told by the doctor you wont always have trouble breathing and considering how serious his reaction was they told me next time to go ahead and pop him with the epi pen!
julie wilkerson on July 04, 2018:
I was stung by a bumble bee last summer onthe face 5 times.I looked just like your pics. It is not fun.Unfortunately i was stung on the forehead 3 days ago.The swelling is starting to go down today.Your post is been helpful and hope it continues help ease peoples pain and swelling.A light at the end the tunnel.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on March 23, 2018:
Good luck to you, Alicia. It is a scary feeling for mom and daughter, I'm sure! I hope she's better soon, and I'm glad you are going to see your GP.
Alicia on March 23, 2018:
Hi. My 7 yo girl was stung at school on her eyelid yesterday. I gave her pain relief and some anti inflammatory and then as the swelling increased I got the dr out. I should have googled before he came so I could ask about it but he advised to continued with what we were giving her but to add an antihistamine to it too. It's about 14hours since the sting and she looks like she's been in a boxing match. At least she's sleeping. Im taking her to our GP in the morning armed with your useful info. Thank you, from a worried mummy.
Linda Barry on March 08, 2018:
I am not a bee keeper, however thank you for this detailed discription of what happens when you get stung. I am 56 years old and have been stung a few times in my day, I was stung yesterday and I didn’t think much of it I went back to work. My finger swelled up, hurt a little and went back down. Done deal right? Wrong!! I woke up in the middle of the night with the most intense itching, swollen, and hot finger! What? In my old age I was not aware that it could go through different phases, ice pack helps. To late for Benadryl, I have to go to work. Thanks again, you helped me realize that it was a normal reaction!
Steven on October 22, 2017:
Thank you so much! I got stung on the eyelid yesterday. Thank you!! Best info on the web! While enjoying Fall color in the Rio Grande bosque yesterday, we sat on a log, was a hive. Bees attacked immediately, and pursued us about 20 yards. Pain first day, by 10:00 PM eyelid began swelling, later edema had spread to cheekbones, today swelling isn't quite closing eye. Had some atarax from former prescription & took it. Waiting to see. Should I take benadryl too?
Micaz on October 11, 2017:
So helpful, thank u!
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on September 14, 2017:
Hi Megan. I'm so sorry. It was a scary feeling as an adult to be stung, so I can only imagine how scared a 3 year old feels. Hope she's better soon!
Megan Clark on September 14, 2017:
Thanks for this! My 3yr old was just stung on her eyelid and she is having the same reaction... Today marks 48hrs and she's upset bc her eye won't open :(
Stung yesterday on September 10, 2017:
Thanks for sharing I was stung yesterday in eye while doing hive inspection. Somehow bee got into my hood. Swollen swollen swollen!
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 31, 2017:
Hi Jane, I don't remember feeling numbness other than the feeling you get when you are really swollen, which kind of feels numb. If your swelling is down and you feel numb, you might want to call your doctor—just to be safe. Glad the swelling subsided so quickly! I wasn't so lucky.
Jane on August 30, 2017:
Did you have any numbness around your eye? I was stung on my eyelid 3 days ago, and most of the swelling is gone, but today noticed my temple and upper cheek felt numb.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 26, 2017:
Nothing worse than having this happen to a child. If he's not feeling better today, you might want to see a doctor for some medications. Hope he's better soon!!
H. Potter on August 26, 2017:
My 7 year old was stung twice yesterday, August 25th. Once on his forearm and once on his forehead. His eye is still swollen shut. It's so hard to see my child in this condition. I'm getting him an eye patch today so he can still walk around and not feel like he was in a fight.
Rod on August 24, 2017:
Thank you Robin this is available and useful resource to anyone stung as i was in the eye and i found your self study reassuring :)
Carey on August 15, 2017:
Thank you for telling your story. I was recently stung by a bee in my eye and was very concerned about the inflammation and how long it was taking to heal. I feel much better now. Thank you thank you
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 14, 2017:
I'm sorry! Hopefully you will get in to see your doc today! If you look at the treatments table above, you can see all the medications that you can take. Good luck!
Jacqueline Beach on August 12, 2017:
My son was stung yesterday yesterday by his eye and this morning it's completely swollen shut. Thank you for this post; I don't feel as worried now. It's Sat so his ped is closed til Mon. What prescription did you take? I'm not sure if I should give Benadryl for the swelling.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 08, 2017:
Hi Susan. Thanks for your comment and letting us know what happened to you. I have never heard of localized reactions influencing an allergy. I have been stung many times on my hands after the face sting and have not had any out of the ordinary reactions. I have actually heard that some beekeepers crave the sting and its reaction; it can feel like your systems are kickstarted. For me, I just itch after a sting on my hands or arms.
One of my hives last year was not a happy one and I should have re-queened, but I didn't want to even go near it. :) The hive died off, so my new hive seems so gentle. Thanks again for the comment.
Susan on August 08, 2017:
Beekeeper here. Thank you so much for this article and your documentation. I was picking flowers near my 3 hives( one is tetchous) and a guard bee came to tell me to go. I held the flowers up near my head and quickly walked away. The bee got caught in the hair of my forehead over my right eye. I tried very hard not to do anything. After I was 150 yards from the hive I no longer felt the bee although I never heard it fly away. I took my hand and brushed it through my hair ~almost reflexively and boom, stung in hairline on forehead. Poor bee. I went in the house and took out the stinger and immediately took 2 benedryl.
One can see why you swell so much in the face. There is only bone and skin and nerves there. I immediately iced but swelling traveled down on the next day to eyes and under my eye lids and my right cheek. Today is the end of day three. I still have a baggy eye that waters but I think it is going to slowly improve. I am going to print this article and take to my MD. Possibly I can get a Rx of steroids and Pepsid for an emergency. I do have an epipen. Your documentation is excellent and you are helping so many people understand this. Do you think that people with localized reactions are more prone to becoming allergic?
david on August 04, 2017:
Thanks for the post; I was a little freaked out until I read through this and it put my mind at ease.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 01, 2017:
Thanks, Wendy, and I'm glad you're on the mend! It's a scary few days.
Wendy on August 01, 2017:
Thank you so much for posting this detailed report of your own experience. I was stung on my eyelid while riding my bike on 7/29/2017 and immediately Googled when I got home. Your story and pictures put me at ease knowing what may come. The stung eye and cheek on same side of face swelled quite a bit like yours but fortunately I had only very minor swelling in the other eye. I took a few Benadryl in the first couple of days and also used ice pack. By Day 4 (today) swelling is starting to dissipate but eyelid is still quite red. Again, I so appreciate your post!
Nicola on July 20, 2017:
Thanks I was stung on my eye in 20th July 17 and had a delayed reaction for 8 hours then it was exactly as you wrote & the pictures are very helpful and reassuring - now on day 3 after going to A&E for additional meds as the steroids my doctor gave me were not strong enough. Always go straight to hospital if your lips / tongue start to swell ! NB@ UK
Jeff on July 10, 2017:
Thanks very helpful. Stung yesterday just wanted to know what was normal. Lucky because only one eye is swollen.
A on July 02, 2017:
Thank you for your detailed post. It reassured me that all would be well, given time. I was stung on the eye lid on Friday afternoon. Things didn't look too bad until I woke up with swelling matching your own pics on Saturday morning. I dutifully took myself to the DR who prescribed a cortisone cream and antihistamine. It is now Sunday evening, I can open my eye again, although redness and itchiness persist in the area affected. Ice pack and cold black tea bag on the eye also helped to alleviate irritation.
Katie on June 28, 2017:
My son my son got stung by a wasp near his eye yesterday evening so your information makes me feel better about his swelling.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on June 26, 2017:
Hi Carol. Sorry to hear about the sting. The lemon water/ginger/green tea is an interesting concoction. How did you come up with that and what are its benefits?
Carol on June 26, 2017:
Thank you for this! I'm currently on Day 3. Progressing just as you did. I have taken ibuprofen, benadryl at night and flushing my system with lemon water/ginger/green tea variations every 30-60 minutes. Plus the ice packs of course. Having bees is still worth it.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on June 26, 2017:
I'm sorry to hear that, Lorna! It sounds like you definitely had a reaction to the antihistamine. Here's webmd's list of side effects to Benadryl, or the like: http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-5113-5282/antihi...
Lorna Ferguson on June 26, 2017:
Did as you suggested aks second time have been stung near eye after tending bees, this time got stuck in my hair as I returned to house and tried to comb out and stung me on cheek by eye. Ouch. Took anti histamine and immediately turned bright red and rushing noise in ears. Reacted to hystamines sadly so on my way to GP. Icing face as typing.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on June 06, 2017:
The late reaction to the sting is so interesting, Marshall. I was stung yesterday on my thumb while tending my hive and the swelling peaked a few hours later. Ice on the area really helps relieve the symptoms. I hope you are better soon!
Marshall on June 06, 2017:
Thanks for your post. Very well documented! I found your post after being stung in the temple just inside the hair line. My eye didn't swell until two days later & mostly under the eye! The worst eye bag ever! It's too late for medical intervention but I am going to try the others. Thanks again!
Megan on May 29, 2017:
Thanks for your post , had a similar reaction getting stung on eyebrow ,3rd day of swelling seems to be going down now , noticed my glands are up too . X
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on May 26, 2017:
Sorry to hear that, Embrey! Hopefully you can rest this weekend. The itching is horrible, I agree. Ice or a cold washcloth on the eyebrow can help with that. Good luck.
Embrey1946 on May 26, 2017:
I was stung on my brow bone area and am going thru the same thing. I am on day 2- the worst it seems with extreme itching and swelling; and it is a holiday weekend.
Sunglasses and Benadryl, are part of my routine for the next 4 days.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on May 15, 2017:
Hi Tom! Hopefully it never happens again! It's only happened to me once in the 5 years I've been keeping bees. All of the other stings I have experienced are very mild in comparison! Good luck with your three hives.
Tom on May 14, 2017:
Was stung in the eye yesterday while working with a bee keeper. Captured a swarm with no problem but later as he checked on other hives I was stung on my eyelid about 10' away when I wasn't wearing my vail. My eye is itchy and swollen today not swollen shut but pretty bad and also spread to other eye as well. Your article was very informative in letting me know what to expect in the rest of the week. I'm starting three hives of bees on my property in the next couple of weeks so I guess this will be something that comes with it lol. Thanks for your article
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on May 11, 2017:
@Rose - yes, when something like this happens, you definitely realize how precious our eye sight and health is! I hope you feel better soon. It's not a fun couple of days.
@sherry - I'm hoping that you are all better by now! The things us beekeepers go through. :)
Rose on May 11, 2017:
THANK YOU for taking the time to compose this article! I was stung by a honey bee yesterday, about 50 feet from our hives, in my hairline above right eye. She got caught in my hair as I was getting in the car. I should have immediately looked in a mirror, I might have been able to help her get out, without stinging. I scraped at the spot, but probably didn't get the stinger out. Today my eye is nearly swollen shut, and my forehead is clearly buldging on that side. (I did not take Benedryl or use B. spray, because it gives me restless legs.) But last year I was stung under an eye, and it was like botox, that undereye was warm and pink and not wrinkled or baggy for a month! Did you ever notice that we don't appreciate our healthy days as we should?
Sherry on May 07, 2017:
So grateful for your chronicle. I, too, am a beekeeper, and was stung on top of the head Friday morning before work. It took me about 5 minutes to find the stinger and remove it, and except for some some flushing and heat in my face, I was fine and went to school. My athletes had a big track meet that day so I had to travel, and by around 4, though my forehead had been swollen and itchy, my left eyelid was swelling. Long story short, woke up yesterday and my eyes were both swollen: eyelids, underneath, bridge of my nose -- boxer style. Today is day 3 and my left eye is closing. Started thinking I might need to see if there was anything I could find out about this online. I previously had a sting on the side of my nose, near the corner of my eye, after a bee got caught under my glasses after I took my protective hood off. No reaction other than soreness then. So grateful to see your chronology of the experience. Now I know, this too shall pass, and how to best treat. Thank you.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on April 04, 2017:
@sharon: I'm sorry you had to be out and about after the sting. Luckily, I was able to stay in the house. I was frightening to look at! I hope it's better today, since your comment was two days ago.
@ Fionna: Nothing worse than a bee in your hive suit. It is amazing how the sting and the antihistamine affects how you feel. I also felt strange all day. I hope you're on the mend!
@Kelly: It's interesting how the sting on the top of your head also caused your eye to swell. Thanks for sharing your story. Hope you're feeling better!
kelly on April 02, 2017:
Great to see our post. I was stung on my head, Saturday afternoon. I woke up Sunday to a little bit of swelling on my forehead. By the end of Sunday, my right eye was starting too swell and the side of my face. I wake Monday morning to a complety shut right eye. Good to see my reaction is not going to last forever, I am flying out on a holiday in 6 days.
Sorry if there are errors, typing a little challenging with one eye.
Fionna winter on April 02, 2017:
Thanks for this. I feel better that mine is a normal reaction after reading it. I got stung at the hive area just under my eye yesterday when Bees managed to get inside my suit! (My sloppy dressing)! I couldn't take the suit off or get to the stinger for some time so it was left in! Once suit was off and stinger out I took an anti histamine and Ibuprofen and applied ice. It was quite painful to be honest. The rest of the day I did feel weird but eye looked ok. This morning however it is very swollen and painful. I've taken more medication and applied ice. I was just googling to see if there was any information on how long this might last! Didn't expect 6 days of this!! So thanks again...now I know!
Sharon Reeves on April 01, 2017:
Thanks for this post. Yesterday I was stung on the end of my nose through my bee suit. I could not stop and get the stinger out so it was in for at least 15 min. I could see the stinger in my nose while I was working. My plight it much like yours, my left eye and face have swollen and my right eye has mild swelling. Unfortunately, I had to go out today as I am a Potter and had a sale today and HAD to go. LOL Lots of looks. 1 April and I am out with a bee sting face can not tell you how many people thought I was kidding. This is really no JOKE. It feels like the numbness wearing off from the dentist all the time. Terrible. I was checking to make sure this was normal... Well your post answered that question along with your photos . Very helpful, mentally I feel better... physically I am a puffy mess.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on February 27, 2017:
Good luck over the next few days, Jack. It's not a fun week, but you will feel better!
Jack Mulligan on February 26, 2017:
I got stung high on the bridge of my nose 26th February 2017. Right eye nearest the site has swollen exactly like yours. Great puffy sack beneath the eye extending down to the cheek bone. Thank you for the advice, very useful and reassuring.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on January 27, 2017:
I'm glad you went to emergency, Lucy. Multiple stings can be very dangerous and I recommend that anyone that gets more than a few stings and are feeling the symptoms you were feeling go straight to emergency or call 911. It's rare, but people can die from bee stings. Once bees and wasps start stinging they leave a pheromone that triggers the other bees to follow suit. I hope you were given medication that will help in your recovery. Rest up and hire someone to get rid of that wasp nest!
Lucy on January 27, 2017:
Thank you very much for your article. It is helping me to deal with my wasps attack drama. Several days ago, I was stung repeatedly (nose, right eye and left arm) in my garden where the wasps made their nest. How fast and vicious they were! I'm not allergic to anything, however, due to the venom overload, I had a bad reaction( sharp pain in my face and neck, sweating, lethargy) and had to go to the emergency. I'm recovering now and I hope to see myself normal again and of course to hear endless jokes about me "welcoming" wasps into our garden and running faster than an Olympic sprinter. Thanks again.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on January 11, 2017:
Hope you're on the mend, Triagirl! It is odd that it took so long to start to swell. Thanks for sharing that information with us. Good luck to you!
Triagirl on January 09, 2017:
I just got stung by a bee 2 days ago as I was riding my bike. I was going downhill very fast as it happened. The bee stung me and then got stuck behind my sunglasses! I couldn't remove it, it hurt so bad! First 12 hours nothing happened then all of a sudden my left eye totally swelled up and I started getting headache, I felt really bad. My heart rate was going up and down the whole day even though I was just at home taking it easy. I guess that's the chemistry of the bees, their stings are just venomous. I'm happy I saw your post, I now know that I just need some more days of patience. Thanks a lot!
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on October 31, 2016:
Thanks for your comment, Melissa. I'm surprised that a sting on the top of the head would cause a similar reaction to your eyes. Wow. Hope you are feeling better soon!
Melissa on October 29, 2016:
Hi!! I was actually stung right on the top of my head but I am still looking like you!! Both eyes are 3/4 closed, very puffy under and around eyes. It feels like my forehead has been botoxed!! I was stung 29 hours ago. I am a beekeeper also and have been stung before. This is the worst reaction by far. And all this from the top of my head. Not even on my face!! Was useful to see your photos. Makes me feel I am not alone. Struggling to keep my eyes open!!
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on October 27, 2016:
I'm so sorry to hear it, Jay. I suggest trying to get some medication from your doctor to help with the swelling. It is no fun, but the meds do help. Best of luck to you; the next few days aren't very fun. :(
jay on October 27, 2016:
I wish I could post a pic cause my right eye was swelled completely shut this morning from a hornet stinging my eye the night before its already opening up but there is still aalot of swelling in my cheek I'm not even sure if I'm allergic or not but i guess if I'm still alive that's a good sign I use to have a epi pen but it was for peanut butter although I still eat it an really don't have any symptoms
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on October 25, 2016:
Hi Sharyn. It's interesting how differently some react to the sting. I think scraping away the stinger quickly makes a big difference because less venom is released in the tissue. It took me too long to get the stinger out. I hope your recovery continues to go well. :)
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on October 25, 2016:
Sandy, I did feel like I was bruised in my eye. I think it was the pain of the swelling, but it did feel like I was punched. :(
Sharyn Arthur - New Zealand on October 24, 2016:
Wonderful to see your post. I was stung on the eyebrow yesterday - gardening in the vicinity of our backyard hive. I now realise my swollen shut eye is moderate - no swelling across bridge of nose etc - just woke up on Day 2 and thought I would find out more! Minimal itch or pain fortunately. My husband and his bee keeper partner were both attacked while attending to the hive a year or 2 ago when they were not totally kitted out - exposed ankles and hands. My husband's initial swelling on the hand was intense ballooning up his arm and at midnight about 6 hours later on a Saturday we decided to seek medical help - didn't want to go to bed and have him possibly not wake up! He had an injection at the medical centre - can't remember what now but his recovery was so fast and itch free compared to our friend who did not have such an intense reaction but soldiered on with non prescription medication and incredible itch and misery.
Sandy on October 09, 2016:
Did you feel like you had been punched in the eye? My sting in on my eyelid and the entire eye socket hurts so bad.
erin on September 27, 2016:
Thanks for sharing your experience! I am on day 4 and similar expereince to yours!
AlyceQ on September 19, 2016:
Thank you for chronicling this! I found it while Googling my miserable condition right now. Got stung by a yellow jacket about 27 hours ago at the inner side of my right eyebrow. It stung for a couple of hours and I had a headache, then it just went away and I thought I was Wonder Woman or something. Apprx seven hours after the sting, the side of my nose and my inner eye began to swell and I took 12.5 mg doxylamine succinate (Unisom) because all I had was children's Benadryl and I was too afraid to do that math. After a horrible night of waking up every hour, wondering when the slow suffocation would begin (I'm crazy like this), I woke up looking like my 92-year-old grandmother before she passed away. The inner corner of my right eye was puffed up like a giant blister and a little slit represented my tear duct area. Under my eye was a giant puffy blob and alongside my nose spreading outward also swollen. My left eye has just enough swelling at the inside corner to make it look freaky but so far it's constrained mostly to the right. I went to the doctor who told me to take Claritin durning the day and 25 mg of Benadryl at night. He did not offer prednisone. I don't react well to steroids as they make me very hyper but I think I'd do it in this case. The disfigurement and discomfort of the swollen eye is very upsetting. I'll take the Benadryl tonight and hope that tomorrow morning things are better. Tomorrow lunch will mark the 48-hour mark. Thanks so much for looking cheery in your photos, too. It's very calming to me as I am not really taking this in stride. :)
Kim on September 16, 2016:
Thanks for posting. I got stung at the outer end of my eyebrow today while doing a OAV treatment. Didn't have my veil on because the reespirator interferred with it and was a nuisance. Plus it was cool out and the bees were quiet until I stuck the darn vaporizer in the entrance.
I tend to swell pretty bad, but my doctor wasn't in today and the other dr in her practice wouldn't give me an rx, plus I am allergic to ibuprofen, etc. so just benadryl and cold compresses for me.
Seeing your progression gives me a good idea of what to expect.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on September 13, 2016:
TaniaMarie, thanks for giving us the full account of your recovery and treatment. It's super helpful to other readers! I remember that feeling of pressure at the point of my tear duct—super uncomfortable. I'm glad you went and saw the doctor and started meds. It does help the recovery time. Hope you are better!!
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on September 13, 2016:
Hi Carolyn. Isn't it interesting how an eyelid sting can be so different than one on the cheek or other part of the face. Thanks for sharing your experience. Everytime I go in thinking it's going to be quick, I don't need a suit, I get stung. I hope you're on the mend!
TaniaMarie on September 13, 2016:
Thank you for writing this. It was the most helpful article I found after being stung. I was stung by a yellowjacket about a cm above the arch of my eyebrow after my daughter accidentally dug into a nest. I was at a park but treated it with a bite stick and ice until we got home a half hour later. I cleaned it, applied a therapik gun, swabbed it with lavender oil & iced it. I was hopeful the reaction would just be a welt but I was woken up in the night by pain & swelling around that eye. By morning my eye looked like your picture within a few hours of your sting with little pain but losts of itching and discomfort from swelling. Later that day It was continuing to swell in the triangular area bounded by the tip of my eyebrow & down and to the side of my nose. The worst area was surrounding my inner tearduct next to my nose. Urgent care doc said it was a normal reaction that follows the lymphatic drainage of the face. He gave me 10mg prednisone to take 2x daily for 5 days and told me to take 50mg benadryl at bedtime. The swelling halved within hours of starting the steroid but it is still present on day 2, and the swelling seems to be more evenly distributed around the eye socket. Dr. said that the swelling should be minimal within 48 hrs and mostly gone by 36 hrs or return for additional tx. My 6yo daughter was stung on the hand and shoulder and I gave the same initial treatment - by the end of the day not a mark on her and no discomfort, thankfully. Thank you for giving a place to share info!
Carolyn on September 12, 2016:
Hi Robin, thanks for this post and your photos. Last year I got stung on the cheek bone by an angry bee about 1.5 hours after we had been in her hive. I had little, almost no, reaction. Yesterday morning I got stung on my eyebrow by a guard bee while doing a quick job (no suit required, or so I thought!) and my face looks very like yours! It is good to see what to expect, thanks! Also, I will add icing to my regime of meds, which I was already doing. Thanks!
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on September 09, 2016:
Hi Bob. I'm so sorry! Yellow jacket bites can also be incredibly painful and can also cause swelling. Thanks for your account of what happened and let us know if you follow a similar path that I did with the swelling. Good luck!
Bob on September 09, 2016:
Hi Robin, I was using electric hedge trimmers to cut away some weeds in the grass, and upset a nest of yellow jackets. One got in between my eye and my safety glasses, and before I could remove the glasses, stung me on the right eyebrow. Since it didn't really 'sting', I just put a little calamine lotion on it and went back outside to my yard work. About 3 hours later, while having lunch, my wife remarked that my eye looked swollen, and sure enough it was! That was 2 hours ago, and since my eye really swelled up, I found this site and took some Benadryl and put ice on it. It's uncomfortable and annoying, and I look awful, but it's not that bad - I did drive a few miles to run an errand, and am glad I don't have to be back to work for 2 days! Thanks so much for your article and photos - now I know what I have to look forward to!
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 24, 2016:
I'm so sorry to hear that, Nan. I'm sure it's really painful. It sounds like you hit a wasp or yellow-jacket nest in the ground. Bees don't build their hives in the ground. The treatment and effect can be the same as bee stings though. I hope you're feeling better soon!
Nan Little on August 24, 2016:
Thanks so much for this site. I was gardening two days ago and pulled a nest out of the ground, instigating an immediate, furious reaction. I have 9 or 10 stings all over, including my eyelid. I delayed taking Benadryl since I needed to know if it would interfere with my Parkinson's medication, but I did put Benadryl cream on all the stings but the eye. Medics came and we determined my reaction was not allergic (life-threatening), but painful. My face looks just like your photos. This will pass.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 19, 2016:
There's nothing worse than a bee in your veil. I'm sorry you're face is swelling. Getting the stinger out quickly is so important, but when it happens it's natural to be flustered and not be quick about it. I'm glad you had Bendadryl on hand. Good luck to you!
Riley K on August 19, 2016:
Thank you for your article Robin.
Sadly a bee made her way into my veil and stung me in the forehead yesterday while I was at work. I immediately dropped what I was doing and got my bag from the truck, because it has my benadryl in it, and then walked away feom the yard to take two. I think I may have forgotten to take the stinger out in time :/ I just woke up to get ready for work, and my eyes are swelling :( sadly I can't drive and just called in sick. Looks like I will spend the rest of the day icing my eye and taking benadryl :/
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 18, 2016:
Hi Alicia, I'm so sorry to hear about your granddaughter. It's a scary feeling as an adult, so I'm sure it's terrifying for a child. She will probably be afraid of bees for quite a while. You may need to do some reading about bees with her so she doesn't have a fear for a long time. Our daughter is still afraid of bees because of my sting. It's a natural reaction. However, bees don't want to sting you and in most cases are docile creatures just trying to do their job of finding nectar and pollen. Let us know how she is and tell her I understand how much it hurts but it will get better soon.
Alicia on August 18, 2016:
Thanks for posting this! My 6 yr old granddaughter was stung at the eyebrow and I was really concerned with the swelling. Reading this, and seeing your pictures, has been a great resource and help. I've been able to show her your pictures and we've been able to manage expectations for healing.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 01, 2016:
@ken—being stung multiple times around the face sounds scary. I would recommend seeing a doctor if this happens and getting on medication. I hope you were able to do this and are better now.
@linda—Rhubarb juice is a great tip for reducing itching. It's interesting how some stings can cause more pain and swelling than others. Getting the stinger out quickly is usually one of the best things you can do to reduce the symptoms. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Linda on July 30, 2016:
A bee snuck inside with me after sorting the hive, and managed to get me right on my thumb. Because of breastfeeding I tried to hold off on anything other than ice as long as I could, but boy do I regret that now! My hand swelled so much with discolouration right down to the elbow. Urgh! Rhubarb juice has been fantastic for getting rid of the itches but this is definitely the worst response to a sting I've had. Looking forward to getting my hand back again hopefully soon!
Ken on July 18, 2016:
Was stung between eye and eyebrow and a few times on my ear and head by bees. my eye keeps swelling at night even 6 days later, but goes down after I get up. My lymp nodes under my ears were swelling and actually painful around day 4, but they have gotten better. Just waiting for my left eye to stop swelling at night.
Devin on June 16, 2016:
Thank you this was helpful
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on June 13, 2016:
Hi Kathy, I'm glad you went to the doctor. The next few days aren't fun, but you will be okay. I hope your hive is a calm one. Last year we had two hives that were too aggressive. They died off, but this year our bees are so calm. The difference of a good queen! Good luck to you!!
Kathy on June 10, 2016:
Thank you. We are new to beekeeping. I watched my husband check the hives from what I thought was a safe distance. Unfortunately a kamikaze honeybee headed straight for my eyebrow. It looks like my experience is paralleling yours. I appreciate the pictures so I know what to expect. I did go to the doctor 24 hours after the sting and she put me on steroids. I'm a little past day 2 now but still have a long way to go before I am ready to go out in public! The worst part is that I wear glasses and my eye is still so swollen that I have to wear them lopsided. Learned our lesson, we won't be touching a hive without full gear and smoke.