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Baking Soda Banishes Pain From Sting

Baking soda and vinegar eased the pain of an insect sting.
Baking Soda Banishes Pain From Sting

Q. A wasp stung me today on the inside of my thumb. I called NHS Direct for advice. Then I logged onto your website and found the method of bicarbonated soda and vinegar. It worked really well! Ten minutes after I first applied it, the pain was nearly gone.

A. American readers may not know that Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) provides self-care advice by telephone, digital TV and on the Web. We are delighted that making a paste of baking soda and vinegar worked for you. Many other readers have found this home remedy eases the pain of bee or wasp stings.

Other remedies for stings include applying the freshly cut surface of an onion or making a paste of meat tenderizer (containing papain) mixed with water or vinegar. Here is just one story from a visitor to this website:

“Putting a slice of onion on a sting has always been the treatment of choice for me since childhood. Once I was hiking with a group and one of the hikers was stung over 100 times over his body but particularly on his head. We were close to camp so I ran and sliced an onion and wrapped the slices onto his head and body with a roll of gauze and he never swelled or had any pain.” E.M.

A severe reaction to a sting requires emergency medical treatment. Doctors will often prescribe an EpiPen for a person who has suffered anaphylactic shock in response to a sting. The idea is to keep this rescue medication (self-injected epinephrine) close at hand for emergency use.

Charles took another course of action:

“I had a horrible allergic reaction to a yellow jacket sting. Rather than carry an EpiPen on me the rest of my life, I took a series of desensitization shots. While it’s necessary to take them over a long period of time, I now no longer worry. I was stung again with no problem.”

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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