DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Infected bee sting on the skin of a 55-year-old woman. The red swollen area around the wound occurs when large amounts of fluid collects in the inter-cellular tissue spaces (oedema). Bee stings can cause pain, redness and swelling for up to 48 hours, or more if they become infected. Bee venom is recognised by the body as a foreign substance and triggers an inappropriately vigorous inflammatory response, mediated by body substances such as histamine. This kind of hypersensitive reaction is called an anaphylactic response, the commonest type of allergic reaction. Treatments for stings include removing the sting, cooling with ice and using hydrocortisone cream.
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