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Remedies for Wasp Stings

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 20, 2020

Wasp stings are a common, yet painful problem. There are many species of wasp, the most common being yellow jackets and hornets. Similarly, there are many reasons why a wasp may sting you. However, most wasps only sting when they or their nest are disturbed, or when they have been irritated by your presence.

Unlike bees, wasps can sting multiple times because they don't lose their stinger with their sting. They will also inject a venom into your skin with their sting.

Most wasp stings can be incredibly painful, especially if they surprise you. But after the initial sting, they mostly cause only minor discomfort, which can be treated at home. Common wasp sting symptoms include pain in the sting area, swelling and redness that extends out of the sting site, itching, heat at the site of sting, and potentially hives if your body has a reaction to the sting.  

Remedies and Treatments for Wasp Sting

If you have been stung by a wasp, it is common for the site to have a large reaction. That does not usually indicate a cause for concern. Only if you have been stung in the mouth, nose, or throat, should you seek medical attention. 

Luckily, there are many home remedies and treatments that can be done to alleviate the pain of a wasp sting. Below you will find methods to treat a wasp sting at home to provide quick relief:

Wash The Area

First, wash the affected area with warm soap and water. Cleaning the site can remove any bacteria or venom the wasp might have carried. This will also help wash out some of the venom left behind by the wasp.  

Apply Cold Pack

Wrap a thin cloth around an ice or cold pack. Apply this pack to the sting site for 30 to 60 minutes, in intervals of 10 minutes on and off. This will help reduce the swelling and pain of the wasp sting. 

Take Anti-inflammatory Medication

To reduce the swelling, take an anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen. This will help lessen pain from the wasp sting and also reduce swelling at the sting site.

Apply Antihistamine

Another symptom of wasp stings is itchiness at the injection site and surrounding area, depending on how far the sting has spread. To relieve the itchiness, which can increase for hours after the initial sting, apply an antihistamine, corticosteroid, or calamine cream to the entire red and swollen area. This will also help alleviate the pain of the wasp sting. 

When to See a Doctor

Wasp stings can be painful, but, when treated at home, the pain usually lasts no more than a day. If you are experiencing persistent pain and continuous swelling over the course of a couple of days, you may have an infection.

If you have an infection or are experiencing an allergic reaction to wasp stings, they can cause more harm. If you start experiencing the symptoms below, you may have a life-threatening allergic reaction

  • Tightness in the throat or chest
  • Tickling in your throat
  • Uncontrolled coughing
  • Wheezing in the chest
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Hives over large parts of your body

Once you have received appropriate treatment, consult with your doctor to see if you have a wasp or bee allergy. Then going forward, talk about preventative actions to take against wasp stings. 

Emergency Care

Call 911 immediately if you were stung in the mouth, nose, or throat area, or if any serious symptoms occur. Wasp stings in those areas could cause throat swelling and cause difficulty breathing. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Contra Costa Health Services: “How to treat bee and wasp stings-and when to see a doctor.”

DermNet NZ: “Bee and wasp stings.”

John Hopkins Medicine: “Insect Stings.”

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