How to Treat Wasp Stings? (Symptoms & Remedies)

Looking to learn how to treat wasp stings?

Well then, you're in the right place!

In this guide you will learn:

  • What wasps are
  • Symptoms of a wasp sting
  • How to mend wasp stings
  • Some common complications of wasp stings (like anaphylaxis)
  • What to do if someone shows signs of severe allergic reactions
  • Home remedies and natural treatment for wasp stings
how to treat wasp stings on humans

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What is a Wasp?

Wasp is a group of insects of the Hymenoptera order and the Apocrita suborder, but is neither an ant nor a bee. They are paraphyletic with respect to ants and bees,but do not form clade.

The most common wasps are hornets and the yellowjackets. These live together in nests with non-reproductive workers and an egg laying queen. Wasps can live anywhere and that’s why their stings are common. 

Like hornets and bees, wasps are equipped with a stinger, which they use for self-defense. Their stings are quite uncomfortable and can cause significant irritation and pain because the venom is strongly alkaline.

Read Also: What are the best traps to catch wasps?

Even though the actual composition of wasp venom isn’t well known, we have a good idea of what its major components are. The venom contains peptides that are referred to as ‘wasp kinin,’ and like bee venom, it contains histamine, the enzyme hyaluronidase, and phospholipase A.

It also contains a compound called acetylcholine which is not found in bee venoms. This compound is a neurotransmitter which helps in intensifying the pain felt from the venom and sting by stimulating pain receptors.

The wasp venom is transmitted to humans during a sting just like an injection using a syringe. During an attack, the insect can sting more than once because its stinger does not become stuck in the skin of the victim like the stinger of the bee.

What are the Symptoms of a Wasp Sting?

There are two categories of people - those with sting allergies and those without. Those in the second category will only show minor symptoms after a wasp sting.

During the sting, they will experience a sharp pain followed by a feeling of burning at the stung area of their body.

The skin will turn red, swell and may also feel itchy.

Read Also: How much does it cost to exterminate wasps?

More about Common Local Reactions

The area around the sting site may develop a raised welt and in the middle of the welt there will be a tiny white mark.

This is where the stinger punched the skin. For those who are non-allergic to stings, the swelling and the pain usually recede after several hours.

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Large Local Reactions

This term is used to describe more prominent symptoms associated with a wasp sting. It happens to people who are allergic to wasp.

These reactions may include extreme swelling and redness that increases for 2 or 3 days after the sting. Vomiting and Nausea can also occur. Large local reactions may subside in a week or so.

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When you had a large local reaction after a wasp sting, at one time it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have this type of reaction to future stings.

You may have one strong reaction but never show the same reactions again in future. However, there are some people that have large local reactions whenever they are stung by wasps. This could be the way their bodies routinely respond to wasp stings.

Severe Reactions (Anaphylaxis)

Anaphylaxis is the most severe reaction to wasp sting. It occurs when your body goes into shock as a result of the wasp venom. You will begin to experience the symptoms shortly after being stung by a wasp.

Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. This is because it affects multiple parts of the body.

Those who go into shock after an insect sting do so very quickly and the symptoms include:

  • Itching or hives  in areas of the body not affected by the sting
  • Severe swelling of the throat, lips, or face
  • Dizziness
  • Breathing difficulties, such as gasping or wheezing 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Racing or weak   pulse

All these symptoms may not be experienced at the same time after a wasp sting, but you can experience at least some of them after the first sting or in subsequent stings.

People who experience anaphylactic shock after the first sting are up to 60 percent more likely to experience it again in the future stings.

What Are Complications Resulting From Wasp Stings?

Wasp stings may contribute to complications that involve the nervous system. Even though this occurs in rare cases, you should not take chances.

In such cases, you may experience motor aphasia (the impairment of writing abilities and speech), pupil dilation, and muscle weakness following a wasp sting. These nervous complications are extreme, butare not likely to occur.

How to Treat Wasp Stings?

For Moderate Reactions

Moderate reactions to wasp stings can be treated at home. Follow this procedure:

  1. Use soap and water to clean the sting area to remove as much of the venom as possible. Keeping the wound clean and dry prevents infection.
  2. Apply a cold pack to the wound site. This will reduce pain and swelling.
  3. Cover the sting area with a clean bandage if desired.

This should be able to make you feel a little comfortable, but if the skin irritation or itching becomes bothersome, you can apply calamine or hydrocortisone cream to the affected area. Colloidal oatmeal and baking soda can be used in the bath or through medicated skin creams because they are soothing to the skin.

treating itchy wasp stings

You can use ibuprofen or any other over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce the pain associated with wasp stings. To reduce itching, you can use antihistamine drugs such as chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine. Take all medications as prescribed to avoid possible side effects, such as drowsiness or stomach irritation.

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If you had not had a tetanus booster shot in the last 10 years, you should get a tetanus shot within some days of the sting.

For Severe Reactions

Severe allergic reactions require immediate medical attention. If available, administer an EpiPen as soon as symptoms begin. If you have a history of wasp allergies, don’t wait for the symptoms, just administer the drug as soon as you are stung.

To treat severe allergic reactions you can:

  • Continue with epinephrine to calm the immune system
  • if breathing has temporarily stopped, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • use steroids, oxygen, or other medications to improve breathing

What to Do If Someone Shows Signs Of Severe Allergic Reactions?

  • Call or ask someone else to call local emergency services, right away.
  • If the victim can speak, ask them whether they have an epinephrine auto-injector. In case they have it, retrieve it and help them use it according to the directions on the label.
  • Clean the area of the bite, apply a cold pack to the wound site and cover it with a clean bandage.
  • Encourage the victim to lie down quietly with their legs elevated and to remain calm and stay still. In case the victim starts to vomit, turn him/her onto their side to prevent choking.
  • In case the victim becomes unconscious and stops breathing, start CPR immediately and continue until medical help arrives.
  • Don’t apply a tourniquet as this may make matters worse. You should also avoid giving them anything to drink or eat.

Read Also: What are some good wasp sprays?

What Are Some Home Remedies and Natural Treatments for Wasp Stings?

Some substances that are readily available in our homes can be used to treat wasp stings or to reduce the itchiness and pain. These include:

Baking Soda: Make a paste with water and apply on the affected area.

Witch Hazel: dab a little on the affected area and allow it to dry. Repeat as needed.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Soak a cotton ball in raw apple cider vinegar and press it over the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes.

Honey: Smear a little raw honey on the affected area and allow it to dry. Rinse it off with warm water after a couple of minutes. Repeat as necessary.

Aloe Vera: Slit aloe vera open with a knife and apply the gel on the affected area. Do this daily for a few days.

Peppermint essential oil: Apply 1 or 2 drops of peppermint directly on the sting site. Repeat daily as necessary.

Aspirin: Crush aspirin into a powder then make into paste using water. Apply on the affected and allow it to sit for a few minutes.

White Toothpaste: Smear a little toothpaste on the affected area then allow it to sit for a few hours before washing it off with a damp cloth.

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Lemon Juice: Cut a lemon into two and one piece over the affected area for a few minutes.

Garlic: Crush some garlic then add half a tablespoon of salt. Apply this on the affected area.

Onion: Cut an onion into two and one piece over the affected area for a few minutes.

Cucumber: Place a piece of cucumber on the affected area.

Potato: Place a piece of potato on the affected area.

Olive Oil: Apply the oil over the affected area and leave for some time.

Calamine Lotion: Apply the lotion over the affected area and leave for some time.

Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulphate): Apply it directly onto the affected area.

Mud: Apply mud on the affected area to provide relief from pain.

Marigold: Rub the petals of fresh Marigold flowers over the affected area.

Basil: This has antibiotic properties and will reduce infection and also reduce pain.

Plantain: Chop some leaves then add some warm water. Apply this mixture on the affected area.

How To Treat Wasp Stings On...

One of the most common questions people ask is how to treat wasp sting on various parts of the body. Others also want to know, for instance, how to treat stings on babies or pregnant women.

How to treat wasp stings on…

Babies

The skin of a baby is very delicate and may swell more than that of an adult when stung by a wasp. When your baby is stung by wasp, immediately clean the area with warm water then apply ice. To ease the pain, you can give the baby some painkiller like paracetamol syrup. Keep an eye on the baby for any signs of anaphylaxis, and seek medical help or treat accordingly.

Lips

Lips are very prone to swelling and the swelling may make your face look distorted. Just follow the normal procedure for treating wasp sting but ensure to do it faster to reduce the extent of swelling.

Head and Face

Whichever part of your head the wasp stings, your face is likely to swell and become very painful. Wash your head/face immediately and apply ice. Use some painkiller to reduce the pain and headache if any. If you notice anything unusual, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Near eyes

The area around the eye is very delicate and you would not entertain anything that might interfere with your sight. Apart from being very painful, a sting near the eye is a little alarming. Clean the area very fast and apply ice. It’s good to seek medical attention just in case the venom reached your eyeballs. To help with itching, you can use an antihistamine such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or Claritin (loratadine). for pain relief, you can use ibuprofen (Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Foot and Finger

The skin on the foot and finger is a bit tough compared to other parts of the body and even the swelling might not be much. When stung in this area, just use the normal treatment procedure.

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Pregnant Women

A wasp sting on a pregnant woman can be harmless if the woman does not show allergic reactions. But any form of reaction, whether minor or sever reactions, can potentially put the baby and the pregnant woman at risk. If allergic reactions are not treated immediately, they can lead to anaphylactic shock and this may cause the pregnant woman to go into a coma, and in the worst case, cause the woman and the child to die. It is therefore important that a pregnant woman seek medical attention as soon as she is stung by a wasp.

Pets

Getting stung many times, or being stung one but inside the mouth or throat of your pet, is dangerous and requires the attention of a veterinarian.

Wasp stings are poisons and the subsequent swelling can close your pet’s throat and block his airway causing suffocation. That’s why it is important to rush to a veterinarian the moment you notice that your pet has been stung in these delicate areas.

Look out for general weakness, difficulty breathing and large swelling that extend away from the sting site as symptoms that indicate that the services of a vet are necessary. As a first aid measure, administer a remedy for the pain and apply ice pack on the affected area. 

Conclusion and Final Thoughts About wasp bites

In this guide, I have covered what wasps are, the symptoms of a wasp sting and treatment of wasp stings. Wasps are very common during warm seasons and those who are working outdoors are their easy targets. Those who have a history of anaphylaxis should always carry a first aid kit to help in case they get stung. The kits must have epinephrine injections that you can give yourself after a wasp sting. This drug relaxes the blood vessels and muscles, helping the heart rate and respiration rate to return to normal.

Keep wasps away by growing wasp repelling plants, using peppermint oil, wasp repelling essential oil blends, and removing wasp nests (this may require the services of professionals).

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