Q. I love wasps, bee, mud daubers and anything else that flies and buzzes. My friends call me a ‘bee charmer.’ I'm the one who carries them outside to fly free.

When I was reaching for a log on the woodpile today, though, I accidentally trapped one between my finger and a falling log. It stung me and caused excruciating pain. My hand also started inflating.

I searched online and found your Web site. Cut onion on the sting worked in 20 minutes to stop the swelling and ease the pain.

I don't blame the wasp. I will continue to protect them, but I’ll check a log before picking it up.

A. We first heard about using a cut onion on a sting about 20 years ago. A reader had learned this trick from his German neighbor.

We checked with world-renowned onion chemist, Dr. Eric Block of the State University of New York at Albany. He agreed that a fresh-cut onion might ease the pain of an insect sting because an ingredient in onions breaks down the chemicals responsible for inflammation and discomfort. Other readers have used fresh onion juice to soothe the pain from a minor kitchen burn.

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  1. Rhonda

    I wrapped my hand around a cooking pot handle that had just come out of a 400 degree oven. I immediately threw my hand under running cold water and then immersed it in cool water. I later kept a cold ice pak on/off the entire hand. Fearing 2nd-3rd degree burns/blisters; major medical complications on a hand with poor circulation/neuropathy, I remembered reading about baking soda. I covered my hand in a baking soda paste and left it on over night. I repeated this treatment the next day. To my total delight my hand ended up just slightly pink. I had one small minor blister on one finger that did not burst, but healed quickly.

  2. M. Rose

    Several years ago I was stung on the leg by a scorpion. It was horribly painful and my leg turned red and started swelling above and below the site of the sting. At my mom’s suggestion, I tried the fresh-cut onion remedy she discovered in one of your books and it worked great. In about 20 minutes the redness had completely disappeared, the swelling stopped and the pain was almost completely gone

  3. Sheila H.

    Onions for insect stings; Are onions alkaline? Bee stings contain acid and I DO know that baking soda (in the little box) neutralizes the acidic sting. Maybe onions work the same way?

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