How To Treat Wasp Stings

Everyday Illnesses Common Remedies
Remedies For Treating A Wasp Sting

This article covers the treatment for wasp stings in both allergic and non-allergic people. Apart from the soreness a wasp sting causes, occasionally in some people it causes a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylactic shock. If you or a family member is allergic to insect stings it important to talk to your doctor about carrying medication with you at all times. If you are prone to anaphylactic shock you need to carry adrenaline injections.

Signs Of Anaphylactic Shock

Call 911 if someone suddenly displays these symptoms:

• Wheezing and difficulty breathing
• Trouble speaking, hoarseness
• Anxiety, dizziness
• Fast heartbeat
• Tightness in the throat, the feeling the airways are being cut off
• Skin that swells, tingles, itches and turns red
• Loss of consciousness

If the person has an epinephrine injection, inject it into their thigh muscle if they are unable to. Do not inject it into the hands or feet because it can cause muscle damage. If you know the person has a history of anaphylaxis, don't wait for symptoms to occur before injecting them. Sometimes more than one injection is necessary. If symptoms don't improve within 10 to 20 minutes, inject again (or after 5 to 30 minutes in a child). If the person stops breathing, start CPR. See also, when is CPR necessary? and how is hands only CPR performed?

How To Treat Wasp Stings In Non-Allergic People

1. Remove The Sting
Use a tweezers or your nails to remove the sting. Most wasps and hornets however don't usually leave their sting in you, so if you have been stung walk away from the area because they could sting you again.
2. Control Swelling
- Apply ice to the sting for 20 minutes to reduce swelling. Cover the ice with a thin cloth so you don't damage your skin.
- If you were stung on the leg or arm, keep it raised for 30 minutes.
- Remove any tight fitting jewellery in case swelling occurs.
3. Itchiness
Apply calamine lotion or a thick paste of baking soda mixed with water to the sting to reduce itchiness. You can also take an antihistamine.
4. Vinegar
Apply a few drops of vinegar or apple cider vinegar directly to the bite. This will help neutralize the poison (venom). Alternatively rub the sting with some fresh lemon or raw potato.
5. Apply A Penny
An old wives tales says you should press a penny coin on top of a sting and keep it in place for 10 to 15 minutes until the pain is gone.

How Long Do Wasp Stings Last?

Typically the pain lasts for up to 2 days and takes a further 2 or 3 days to heal fully.

What If I Get Stung In My Mouth?

Wasps can crawl into drink cans, and it is not unusual for people to be stung on their lips, cheeks or tongue. If you are stung inside your mouth, suck on an ice cube immediately to control swelling. You should probably see your doctor straight away because if severe swelling occurs it could restrict your breathing.

Useful Advice

1. Wasps like sweet foods (cakes, honey, jam/jelly), so avoid eating these outside. They can also crawl into a soda or beer can, so never drink from a can outside or you could get a mouthful of wasps!
2. Wasps get very bad tempered and sluggish by fall and sting with very little provocation. They tend to crawl into logs as winter approaches. Be careful about picking up dead leaves or fruit or working in the garden late in the year. Wear thick gloves.
3. In late summer wasps are often on the ground, so wear shoes for protection when walking on grass.
4. Take a B-complex vitamin. When these are excreted in your sweat they emit an odor that repels wasps and other insects.
5. Eat lots of garlic, again the odor in your sweat acts as a natural insect repellent. Alternatively, take a garlic supplement.

Related First Aid Questions

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How to treat someone in shock: From allergic reactions.
How to treat rashes: Lotions, potions and more.
How to stop nosebleeds: First aid for nosebleeds in children and adults.
How to treat sunburn: Treatments for sore, sun scorched skin.
How to treat blisters: Instant relief from hand and feet blisters.
How to treat a sprain: Arm sprains and ankles, first aid.
How to treat insect bites: Relief from itchy and sore bites.
How to stop itching: General itching in the body treatments.

• Other health issues? See: How to treat common illnesses.

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