Bee Sting and now Blisters
April 10, 2022 5:13 PM   Subscribe

I was stung by a bee on my ear about 36 hours ago, and the symptoms seemed normal until just recently.

USA / California.
Was hiking, stung by a bee (verified bee because the stinger and bee abdomen was stuck in my ear). Removed stinger. It hurt, but continued the hike, went back to the hotel where I was staying. Disinfected with soap & water and alcohol. Did not treat as had no medicines. Went to sleep.

Today, got up, drove home, and during the drive, noticed the ear was swelling up pretty severely. Got home (about 24 hours after the sting) and started applying cortisone cream and benadryl cream, and began icing it. Took an Aleve and a Tylenol.

The ear is swollen (about 2x the size of my other ear) and hot. Other than looking like 1/2 of Alfred E Neuman, I wasn't worried.

But in the last hour, I've noticed two blisters - they are about an inch away from where the sting was, about pea-sized, very thin (almost translucent looking) and fluid filled.

The swelling is kind of funny looking, but seems normal.

I'm just not sure about blisters.

Googling "bee sting blisters" seems to get me into SEO optimized sites with very dubious info.

For example:

"How To Treat Bee Stings Naturally At Home – The Natural Techniques And Home Remedies Honey Baking Soda And Vinegar Toothpaste Plantain."

Mmmm. Plaintain Toothpaste.

My current plan is to treat with NSAIDs and topical steroids and antihistamines, go to sleep, and if it looks much worse in the morning then consider going to urgent care.
posted by soylent00FF00 to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The last time I had a bee sting blow up and react (i can't say it blistered, but it did start peeling) I went to the doctor and they told me to go on Benadryl (which I had to be on for about a week and a half before the swelling went away), they did some wound care/bandages that I had to change out.

I'd try antihistamines and then trying to go to the doctor tomorrow morning if it looks like it's getting worse. Not much point in going to the ER Sunday night, I suspect.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:20 PM on April 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If your insurance has a tele-doctor service, this is one of the things it's useful for.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 5:22 PM on April 10, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Baking soda is usually good for topical irritation. Limit your histamines, read up on high histamine foods, and check your medications to see if maybe something you are taking contains histamines, or causes a histamine reaction. The bee may have been feeding on poison ivy blossoms, or poison oak, and that is why your reaction is so acute.
posted by Oyéah at 5:23 PM on April 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: P.S. If it is the poison ivy / oak, hypothesis, the blisters will get deep and ooze, and maybe even turn brownish, like burns. Then it will go away. I am way vulnerable to it, and it goes on a while, but will ultimately vanish. Calamine Lotion
posted by Oyéah at 8:31 PM on April 10, 2022

Best answer: You want to be on the lookout for cellulitis. On my phone so can't link but you can Google it. Other than alcohol, did you put any antibiotic ointment on it? The suggestion to try telehealth if your medical plan has that is good idea.
posted by gudrun at 9:06 PM on April 10, 2022

Best answer: Agree with gudrun that you want to watch out for cellulitis. I had cellulitis after a bee sting last year and it got very dangerous very quickly but resolved with IV antibiotics. Is the swelling getting worse? Does it feel hot?
posted by third word on a random page at 2:23 AM on April 11, 2022

Best answer: It could be cellulitis, and cellulitis that close to your face/eyes is an emergency. Please seek care now.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:06 AM on April 11, 2022

Best answer: From an article by an allergist (it's behind a paywall):

Insect stings normally cause local itching, burning, and swelling that subside in hours. These normal reactions are usually not more than 2-3 cm in diameter and have minimal or mild local induration that might persist for a few days. Some individuals get larger than usual swelling from a variety of insect bites and stings, which represents a nonallergic irritability of the skin. Allergic reactions to stings can be local or systemic. Systemic, or anaphylactic, reactions have been reviewed elsewhere, and have been the main focus of research and clinical efforts for diagnosis and treatment. Local reactions can be much larger and more prolonged when they are allergic. Some people get immediate severe swelling, but the typical large local reaction (LLR) to a sting is minimal in the first few hours, which increases 6 hours or more after the sting, progresses for 24-48 hours, and subsides after 5-10 days or longer. The size of an allergic LLR has not been specifically defined, but is usually more than 10 cm in diameter, often 15-20 cm, and can occasionally cause massive swelling of an entire limb. On the extremities, LLRs are often associated with the appearance of lymphangitic streaks toward the axillary or inguinal lymph nodes. These are usually interpreted by urgent care physicians as signs of cellulitis, but this is never the case only 24-48 hours after a sting; they represent inflammatory, rather than infectious, lymphangitis. Although the morbidity of LLR is substantial, there is no danger unless the swelling causes compression in a limited space (compartment syndrome), or is located at the site of a sting in the oropharyngeal airway. Because the swelling develops gradually, these dangers are subacute in nature, usually allowing adequate time for medical evaluation and treatment.

Large Local Reactions to Insect Stings
posted by FungusCassetteBicker at 9:13 AM on April 11, 2022

Best answer: Go to the doctor.
posted by nayantara at 5:43 AM on April 12, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great answers, info, and suggestions. The "go see a doctor" advice was welcome, and I was a few hours away from doing that, but symptoms peaked and started getting better fairly quickly.

LLR sounds a lot like what I had, based on the symptoms and especially the timing - minimal symptoms at first, then big symptoms starting around 24 hours, and (in my case) starting to resolve around 72 hours.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 8:17 PM on April 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

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