How to treat a wasp sting and what treatment to apply?

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Bee and wasp stings are, at best, a painful annoyance that comes with being in the great outdoors. At worst, theyre a life-threatening affliction that requires immediate medical assistance. As much as 5–7.5 percent of the population will suffer from some form of wasp sting allergy of various degrees. In the most severe cases, the course of action should be to call the emergency services. As such, this article will focus on how to treat a wasp sting and on the less serious reactions. Read on for our guide to wasp sting treatment.

What does a wasp sting look like?

The key difference between bee and wasp stings is that bee stingers detach from their body and get stuck in your skin. As a result, bees can only sting you once. Wasp stingers, on the other hand, do not detach from their body, meaning they can sting you over and over again. This will only happen if they feel really threatened or if you are continuously antagonising them.

For most stings, the symptoms will include sharp pain at the site of the sting, as well as redness, welting, and some swelling around the area. More serious reactions will result in more redness and swelling that could spread over the days following. Depending on your skin type, you may see a wasp sting mark on the affected spot.

Those with an extreme allergic reaction to the sting will suffer from anaphylactic shock. The symptoms include light-headedness, breathing difficulties, a higher heart rate, sweating, and perhaps even loss of consciousness.

How to treat a wasp sting

Wasps and bees are different went it comes to stinging both in terms of behaviour and biology.

What to do for a bee sting

First of all, if you have been stung by a bee, youll need to remove the stinger as soon as possible. Be careful to pull it out smoothly so as not to aggravate the existing pierced skin. Also, be mindful not to touch the venom sack that will likely be attached to the stinger – touching the sack will release more venom and worsen the wound. Do so using something with a hard, blunt edge, such as a credit card or a fingernail, but avoid squeezing the sting as this is likely to spread the venom further.

What is the best wasp sting treatment?

Often the best treatment is not to panic. For most of us, a sting will only be painful with no adverse effect but for the pain. Also, running about will possibly cause other wasps to attack and exacerbate the problem. 

Different type of reaction you may get

We are all different, and if you have never been stung before by a wasp, you should be careful as to how to treat a wasp sting and understand what is the best wasp sting remedy for you.

  • Minor reactions:

Once the sting has been removed, wash the injury and surrounding area with water and soap. The aim of this is to remove as much venom as possible. Then apply ice (or something cold that you have on hand) to the area, compress it, and elevate it if possible.

Keep the area clean until the symptoms subside, and avoid scratching or rubbing the area. It will probably be very itchy for the next day or so, but scratching the area will only serve to make it worse and lengthen the recovery period. Applying aloe vera to the area can ease the pain and aggravation. Its a natural anti-inflammatory that can help reduce swelling and the risk of infection.

  • More serious reactions:

For more serious reactions, the above steps still apply. However, additional treatment may be needed to reduce pain and discomfort. For instance, taking painkillers such as ibuprofen may be necessary in cases with extreme pain. You may also need to use some creams or lotions.

Using hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion can help to reduce the severity of itchiness, redness, and swelling. Taking an antihistamine may also be helpful in cases of a serious allergic reaction to the sting.

  • Anaphylactic shock:

If you suffer an anaphylactic shock, emergency services should be called immediately. In such a case, the wasp sting treatment is not the priority anymore. An anaphylactic shock can cause a person to fall unconscious or have trouble breathing, and therefore, they may require CPR. If the victim has epinephrine, you may need to administer it (providing you know how to do so correctly). Its best to leave this to medical professionals if you havent done this before. A person may also require oxygen and intravenous antihistamines to reduce swelling of airways and improve breathing.

These steps will usually be performed by the emergency services, but its good to be aware of what is needed should you or someone you know experience anaphylactic shock.

In general, suffering an anaphylactic shock is highly unlikely. Most bee and wasp stings will be far less severe and easily manageable. In fact, the average adult could withstand a large number of bee stings at once and survive, so theyre usually not much cause for concern. But even if you know how to treat a wasp sting, if the symptoms worsen, do not waste a second calling the emergency services.

What to put on a wasp sting

Ideally, you would have a stinger remover syringe kit that will suck the dart and the venom out of the wound. Otherwise, you would need to have a close look at the wound and see if the dart is still inside, and remove it if needed, and apply a soothing cream and possibly cold. 

Normally, the wasps do not lose the dart and do not die after stinging. And if you wonder how many times can a wasp sting you, you are right to worry. If you disturb a nest, you run the risk of being stung multiple times by different wasps or a single wasp. In any case, the best approach is to visit the nearest drug store who will be able to help further.

How long does a wasp sting last

It will depend if you applied some sort of bee or wasp sting treatment on the wound. The pain that results from the sting may be very intense for a few minutes, then dull down afterward. After twenty minutes or so, it will only be sore for most of us. But for some more sensitive individuals, it may trigger a delayed reaction to the wasp sting that may require urgent medical attention, or it may scar the skin in some ways. By knowing how to treat a wasp sting, you can make a real difference.

Wasps are a seasonal pests coming out in spring and building up over the summer. If you see many bees or wasps in or around your home or get stung in your home, there may be a hive or nest nearby. In this case, get in touch with us or give us a call on 020 3405 5000. Our pest control experts will be able to safely and quickly remove the nest and make your home safe again. For more information on bees and wasps, check out our dedicated guide on our blog.