I remember as a kid, getting stung when walking across a field in bare feet was a major event. The exaggerated limp and trying to hide the tears. You couldn’t let anyone see you cry; your reputation would be damaged severely. Back then, this was somewhat of a common event. If you were going to risk the freedom of walking bare footed, sooner or later you were going to pay the price.
I do not miss getting stung, but sadly I do recognize that the chances of that happening are significantly reduced now a days. I have walked across fields of ground clover not once seeing a honeybee. This is only going to get worse if we don’t do our part to protect the earth’s pollinators.
But let’s get back to the moment you felt that sting on the bottom of your foot. Why did it happen and why the heck does it hurt like that? The first part of that question can be answered by stating simply, you just stepped on that honeybee. It thought it was being attacked so it fought back by injecting your foot with a tiny amount of venom. One tiny drop. So why the heck does such a small amount of venom hurt like that? To answer that we have to look at what the most common components stinging insects have in their venom. Learning this can help you make treatment decisions and not freak out when you develop a localized response at the sting site.
First, I’ll list the components of the insect’s venom and then below you can see what part they play in your body’s reaction. No, I probably don’t have to say this, (sort of like the newscaster that tells you to dress warmly when going out in the bitter cold….) if you have a history of severe or anaphylactic reaction to insect stings, get that EpiPen in use if you have one and call 911. But otherwise, many sting events do not need to be seen by your healthcare provider. Time, antihistamines such as Allegra or Zyrtec and some topical cortisone cream will help. Benadryl is a stronger antihistamine, but just be careful of the sedation effects. The resulting redness and swelling are not likely an infection, rather an inflammatory reaction that will pass in due time. The venom is doing exactly what nature designed it to do. That being said, if you are concerned, then by all means consult your healthcare provider.