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July 1, 2013 11:02 AM   Subscribe

I was stung on a bee RIGHT smack dab in the middle of my forehead. Two days later, the swelling is moving...down. Should I be worried?

The sting happened two days ago, very suddenly - I think they're onto my honey-glutton ways. Was in the middle of work, so I had someone help me to scrape the stinger out and continued on my way. There wasn't much swelling or pain and I've been stung by bees before without much problem, so I shrugged it off and didn't do anything other than take an antihistamine when I got home (just the generic allergy relief tablets I had hanging around - box says they're Chlorpheniramine Maleate). Yesterday, there was a notable bump on my forehead and it was slightly itchy and tender to the touch. This morning, I woke up to my boyfriend laughing at me. The swelling seems to have gone down a bit, but (assumedly because there isn't much room under the tight skin of the forehead) it's now shifted and has swelled not only the base of my nose but around my eyes and underneath. For lack of a better comparison, I now look exactly like one of the weird yellow-face characters in the Wachowski Cloud Atlas movie.

It is, actually, hilarious. But now I'm worried. Is this...normal? Shouldn't the swelling be going down by now? Is there anything else I should be doing to lessen the swelling, or to stop it from going further down? My eyes are a little harder to open than normal (they feel sort of sticky around the sides, though there's no residue). I'm also starting to feel ticklish in the back of my throat, but until it stays around I'm going to chalk that one up to paranoia. I have a show on Friday evening and I'd really rather not look like a mutant.

Previous stings never caused anything more that a small welt, but it's been at least fifteen years since I've been stung and I've also developed pollen allergies in that time. Is my immune system just getting more sensitive?
posted by theweasel to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Any reason you can't go to urgent care to have them look at it?
posted by empath at 11:05 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd head on out to urgent care or a doctor.

Not to freak you out, but The Triangle of Death, is a thing.

I now carry an EpiPen because my allergies have become more severe as I've aged.

Seriously though, have it looked at, if for no other reason than to make ME feel better.

Then repost so we know how you're doing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:06 AM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

#1: Before you ask Metafilter for advice on a sudden health change, call the nurse information line at your local hospital. Most have a free consultation service that can give better advice than we can, in a far more timely manner.

It sounds like the damaged tissues are causing some secondary reactions, just as blood clots from an impact site will form a bruise that will "travel" towards the heart slightly as it heals.

If you don't decide to go seek professional assistance, be on the lookout for weakening or darkening vision (or just at the edge of your vision), dizziness, or any difficulties in breathing no matter how slight. If any such ensues, get a ride to the ER now. (As an asthmatic, I'm mostly wary of histamine-related breathing issues, but your eyes are in the middle of the reaction area too...)

The worst is probably over, but be aware.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:13 AM on July 1, 2013

The last time I ever got stung by a bee was when I was ten - and was also the way in which I and my parents learned that I apparently have a mild, localized allergy to bee stings. And it was actually as you describe in terms of the swelling - I got stung on the face (the lip, in my case), I got tended to, the swelling was already going down that night - but then I woke up the next morning with my lip swollen to twice normal size and the whole left side of my face starting to follow suit. Fortunately some prescription-strength Benadryl from my pediatrician sorted that out in a day or so, and I was fine.

Can't speak to the location of the swelling "moving", but that "it looked like it was going away but came back with a vengeance" thing is totally what happened to me, and I lived to tell about it. See a doctor - you probably should today - but the odds are good that your head isn't going to explode straight off your body within the next ten minutes or anything. Good luck.

(Also - the silver lining for me was that I now totally had an excuse to give into my Bee Fear and could run away flailing rather than trying to do that stoic "stand still and wait for it to go away" thing that everyone always told me to do and which I thought was bullshit as a kid, and I encourage you to indulge in the same Bee Fear from now on because seriously, fuck bees.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:16 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Please call a doctor.
posted by bearwife at 11:48 AM on July 1, 2013

This same thing happened to me a few years ago. A bee flew into one of my helmet's vents while I was biking, and stung me in the forehead. I am somewhat allergic to insect stings and bites (painful swelling, no anaphylaxis).

After the first day, I experienced swelling around my nose and eyes exactly like you are describing. The base of my nose swelled so much I could see it and I took lots of hilarious pictures.

I didn't worry about it because I've been stung before and had bad, but not life threatening allergic reactions. I kept taking antihistimines and icing, and the swelling started to go down after about a week. That said...a doctor probably could have fixed me up pretty quick, I'll bet.
posted by voiceofreason at 11:53 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

My oldest daughter got nailed on the face about 2 week ago - just beside her nose - and the same sort of pattern ensued. Itchy the first day, but by the next morning, one side of her face was swollen way out. It took a few days for it to go down considerably, and about a week to return to normal. The face (and extremities) seem to react worse to beestings then, say, the middle of your back.

Even if I'm working my beehives without gloves (which I do frequently, unless I'm doing a lot of manipulations), I never open up the hive tops without a veil on, for this very reason. I keep an Epi-Pen around as well. None of us are allergic, but the allergy can also come on late in life and I'd rather be safe than sorry.

For her part, Benadryl, Ibuprofen, and time did the trick.
posted by jquinby at 12:05 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks all for the useful responses. I hadn't yet gone to a doctor mainly because of transportation issues (I don't have insurance, and most of the urgent cares in my area are in Car Hell suburbs) and because, having taken pictures every hour, the swelling does seem to be going down. But I think I've found a place close to campus, so you've all convinced me to be safe instead of sorry. To the bus stop!
posted by theweasel at 12:05 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Benadryl is good to have around for the future, and ask about epipens.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:19 PM on July 1, 2013

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