Wasp Stings: Reaction Symptoms and Treatment

Written by Resurchify | Updated on: January 25, 2023

Wasp Stings: Reaction Symptoms and Treatment

Wasp stings are very common in this day and age, especially during the time of winter season when people are prone to outside environments for a longer duration. These can prove to be uncomfortable, but many people most likely recover in no time without coming across any complications whatsoever. 

Wasps such as hornets and bees are provided with a stinger for self-defense. The stinger of a wasp is known to contain a poisonous substance or venom that is transmitted during a sting to a human. 

However, even in the absence of a lodged stinger, the venom of a wasp bite can end up causing significant pain or irritation to the body or skin respectively. It is also possible for a person to suffer from a serious reaction if he gets allergic to the venom produced by the wasp. In any of the cases, prompt treatment is given utmost importance to alleviate any complications and symptoms. 

Severe Reactions Of Wasp Stings

Various allergic reactions as a result of a wasp sting generally required medical attention on an immediate basis. Overall, more or about 3 percent of adults and 0.8 percent of children in the present times tend to suffer from insect sting allergies. 

If a person has an EpiPen in his possession, he should consider administering it as and when he witnesses the initiation of the symptoms in his body. If in case you possess a history of wasp allergies, use the EpiPen when you are stung and follow the procedure by calling 911. 

Several types of reactions as a result of wasp sting include normal local reaction, large local reaction, and anaphylaxis (this will be dealt with in the latter half of the article). 

Normal Local Reactions

A person is most likely to develop or witness a raised welt all around the area of the wasp sting. He might additionally be able to see, in the welt’s middle, a visible small white mark where the wasp stinger punctured his skin. Generally, the swelling and pain tend to recede within a few hours after the person is stung. 

Large Local Reactions

A large local reaction is a word commonly used to describe a set of more pronounced symptoms connected with a bee or wasp sting. People who suffer from a large local reaction might be allergic to wasp stings, but they fail to experience any life-threatening symptoms, say, for instance, an anaphylactic shock. 

Such a local reaction as a result of a wasp sting includes swelling and extreme redness that might increase for a duration of more or about two to three days post the wasp sting. Apart from this, vomiting and nausea might also occur. Almost a lot of the time, a large local reaction tends to subside on its own in about a week or so. In addition to this, a person should always consider letting his doctor be cognized of the fact that he is having a large local reaction post a wasp sting. A doctor, in such situations, might direct him to take an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine medication, for example, Benadryl, for an effective reduction of the discomfort he might be facing. 

Suffering from a large local reaction after a wasp sting once does not mean that a person will necessarily react in the same way in case of any wasp stings in the future. A person can suffer from a strong reaction to a wasp sting and still never show a similar set of symptoms again. 

However, such a local reaction could be a path walking through which the body responds to a wasp sting routinely. It is preferred that a person always tries to avoid getting stung by a wasp for his prevention against such uncomfortable symptoms. 

Symptoms Of A Wasp Sting

A majority of people who do not suffer from sting allergies tend to showcase only a minor range of symptoms after and during a wasp sting. The initial sensations post a wasp sting can include burning or sharp pain at the site of the wasp sting. Itching, redness, and swelling can also take place additionally. 

A bee sting can produce several reactions which can range from temporary discomfort and pain to a severe allergic reaction. Having a particular kind of reaction does not necessarily mean a person will always suffer from that reaction every time he gets stung or that the following reaction in the future will necessarily be more painful or severe. 

Anaphylaxis Followed By A Wasp Sting

The allergic reactions to a wasp sting that are most severe by nature are generally known as anaphylaxis. This tends to occur when the body of a human attains a position of shock and no reaction takes place in immediate response to the venom from the wasp bite. Many people who visit such a situation advancing a wasp sting do so in a short period. It is therefore important that a person seeks immediate treatment or emergency care for the treatment of anaphylaxis. 

Several common symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to a wasp sting can include the following: 

  • Severe swelling of the throat, face, or lips 
  • Racing or weak pulse 
  • Itching or hives on the area of the body of the person that was not affected by the wasp sting 
  • Light-headedness 
  • Difficulty in breathing, such as gasping or wheezing 
  • Dizziness 
  • Sudden reduction in the blood pressure 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Stomach cramps 
  • Vomiting or nausea 

A person might not end up witnessing or experiencing each of the symptoms mentioned above post a wasp sting, but he is most likely to experience at least a few of them after a wasp sting. If in case, he is categorized with a history of anaphylaxis, he should always consider carrying a kit at the time of the event of a wasp sting. 

A bee sting kit contains an EpiPen (also called epinephrine injections) that a person can treat himself with after suffering from a wasp sting. Epinephrine has various effects that will help him stabilize his blood pressure, turn his respiration to a normal pace, increase his strength and heart rate, etc. An anaphylactic shock is generally considered a medical emergency that needs treatment on an immediate basis.

Management And Treatment After A Wasp Sting

The treatment when considering severe allergic reactions as a result of wasp sting might include: 

  • Additional epinephrine for calming the immune system 
  • CPR, that is cardiopulmonary resuscitation, in case your breathing stops for a particular duration of time
  • Steroids, oxygen, or other such medications for the improvement of breathing 

A wasp sting allergy is treated in an approach upon following the steps mentioned below: 

  • The first step is providing an emergency treatment of the symptoms of a serious reaction whensoever it takes place 
  • The second step is providing a preventive treatment of the intrinsic allergy with the assistance of venom immunotherapy 

A life-threatening set of allergic reactions might end up progressing very rapidly coupled with an immediate requirement for medical attention. An emergency treatment generally includes the administration of a certain type of drug, for instance, antihistamines, epinephrine, intravenous fluids, corticosteroids, oxygen, or any other such treatments, depending upon the case. Upon being stabilized, a patient might require close observation in a hospital for a night. 

An injectable epinephrine to administer oneself is prescribed as an emergency rescue medication for treating any allergic reaction caused by a wasp sting. People who have suffered from any allergic reaction previously and rely on epinephrine must always keep in mind that they never fail to carry it with them every time they step out of the comfort of their homes. In addition, recent guidelines have recommended keeping two doses of injectable epinephrine available with him as one dose might fail to be enough to reverse the allergic reaction caused by a wasp sting and for activating emergency medical services if utilized. Even in case the symptoms improve post a single dose of epinephrine, immediate medical attention is highly recommended following a wasp sting. 

Other methods for an effective treatment against wasp sting include: 

Venom Immunotherapy

Treatment of insect sting allergy in a long term is termed venom immunotherapy. It is considered a highly effective program administered by an allergist, which can help in the prevention of any allergic reactions in the future as a result of a wasp or any insect stings.

Venom immunotherapy generally involves the administration of doses of venom that increases gradually to witness a reduction in the sensitivity of the patient to the venom from a wasp sting. This can, in turn, significantly lead to a reduction in the risk of any future allergic reaction to that of the population in general. In a matter of months or weeks, a person who has previously resided under a constant threat of any severe reaction to a wasp sting can easily return to lead a normal life.

If a person thinks he might be allergic to a wasp or insect sting, it is highly recommended that he talks to his allergist. Based on several tests and the history of such a person, the allergist can determine if he is a candidate for immunotherapy and skin testing or not.

Avoidance of Insect Stings

Gaining cognizance regarding the avoidance of stings from honeybees, hornets, fire ants, yellow jackets and wasps might lead to a more enjoyable and playful summer for you than you would have imagined. A stinging insect is generally the most active at the time of summer, spring, or early fall. It must always be kept in mind that any insect repellents fail to work against a stinging insect.

A yellow jacket will generally nest in walls and on the ground, while wasps and hornets tend to prefer nesting on buildings, in bushes, or in trees. Always remember to use an extreme level of caution when playing or working in such areas. Also, consider avoiding exposed foods at your picnics or open garbage cans as they might lead to attracting wasps or insects. You can also consider a reduction of the amount of skin exposed by you while you are outdoors.

An effective method when considering an insecticide treatment for wasps is attractant baits. Such bait often contains corn grits and soybean oil coupled with chemical agents. The bait is picked up by wasps and taken into mounds; it might take a week or more for such insecticides to work effectively.

Allergists are known to recommend several additional precautions to avoid such stings as provided below:

  • Avoid walking barefoot or wearing sandals in the grass.
  • Avoid swatting at any flying insect. If it becomes a need of the hour, you can consider gently brushing it aside or just wait for the insect to fly off.
  • Avoid drinking from any open beverage cam. A stinging wasp can crawl into a can with a sweet beverage.
  • Try to keep your food covered all the time while feasting outdoors.
  • A garbage can kept outside must always be covered with a lid that fits over it tightly.
  • Avoid hair sprays, deodorants, perfumes that smell too sweet, colognes, etc.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that are too brightly colored.
  • Perform gardening and yard work with complete care and caution. You can consider wearing socks, shoes, and gloves to prevent wasp stings on feet and hands and to stay away from any unaccounted mounds.
  • Always keep door screens and windows perfectly well and in good repair.
  • Drive with closed car windows.
  • Keep any prescribed medications along with you every time and follow all the necessary instructions at the time when you are stung. Such medications are for providing immediate emergency service while en route to an emergency ward at any nearest hospital for further treatment and observations.

In case a person suffers from any allergic reaction to a sting, as mentioned above, he should always visit an allergist as soon as possible.

A person can treat mild and moderate reactions as a result of a wasp sting easily in the comfort of his home. While treating a sting at his home, he should:

  • Wash the area of the wasp sting thoroughly with water and soap to efficiently remove as much venom as he possibly can.
  • Apply a cold pack at the site of the wound for an instant reduction in pain and swelling.
  • Dry the wound and keep it clean for preventing any infection.
  • Cover the wounded area with a bandage if required.

A person can use calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream if skin irritation or itching ends up becoming bothersome. Colloidal oatmeal and baking soda also prove to be soothing for the skin and can be used through any medicated skin cream or during a bath. Pain associated with a wasp sting can also be managed with the use of OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen. Antihistamine drugs, for instance, chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine, can help in the reduction of itching as well. Always remember to consume all the medications as per the directions of the allergist or doctor to avoid any potential side effects such as drowsiness or stomach irritation. You can also get a tetanus shot within a few days after the sting if you have failed to have a booster shot for the last 10 years.

Vinegar is another one of the easiest and most affordable home remedies that can be used by a person to treat wasp stings. The theory here is that the acidity of the vinegar can help with the neutralization of the alkalinity brought in by a wasp sting. To use it on a wasp sting, a person can soak a cotton ball in white vinegar or apple cider and then place it on the area of skin affected by the wasp sting. Apply light pressure to gain relief from inflammation or pain. You can consider leaving the cotton ball on the skin for a few minutes if you like.

Using epinephrine kits can never go outdated. These kits let a person give himself medicine right when he is stung by a wasp before he heads over to a doctor for further treatment. The most common of all the brands you can consider going to is an EpiPen. It is still recommended that a person visits a doctor at least once as soon as possible after he is stung. He will generally require a prescription from his doctor to buy such a kit and should consider informing his doctor about the medicine he takes to prevent any adverse interactions with drugs.

Home Remedies For The Treatment Of Wasp Sting

Several home remedies can also help a person gain relief from a sting from wasps. a few such remedies will be discussed hereafter in this article. a person can apply an alkaline solution of sodium bicarbonate, commonly called baking soda, with about 1 pint to 1 tablespoon of water. He can also consider creating a meat tenderizer paste and then applying it to the area of the wasp sting to provide relief as the tenderizer presents itself with an ability to neutralize the sting’s venom efficiently. 

If he fails to possess meat tenderizer or baking soda in his house, other concoctions can be mixed up quickly. For instance, applying apple cider vinegar in a a small amount of the sting mixed with about 50% of water can help in the restoration of the natural pH level of the skin to ease irritation and itching. 

Because a wasp sting and insect bite can lead to causing a histamine reaction in the the affected area, it is suggested that you apply aloe vera gel to the sting directly. Aloe vera gel has excellent properties to fight against bacteria as well as anti-inflammatory properties because of the natural salicylates and histamine formation inhibition. Similarly, oatmeal possesses anti-inflammatory properties that make it a perfect skin soother and protector, when it comes to itchy wasp stings.

Complications Concerning A Wasp Sting

In several cases, rarely, a wasp sting might contribute to complications that involve the nervous system. Several reports have examined and published several unusual cases in which several pediatric patients ended up experiencing pupil dilation, muscle weakness, motor aphasia, and other symptoms after a wasp sting. You must be wondering what motor aphasia is; it is an impairment of the ability to write or speak perfectly. The reactions of the patients were brought, coupled with a blood clot that was an end product of a severe reaction caused by a wasp sting. Such a set of complications can be highly unlikely but extreme if they occur. 

Avoidance is indubitably the key to preventing a wasp sting. Apart from the ways provided above, a person can also talk to his doctor about venom immunotherapy administered into the body as an allergy shot. 

Prevention Against Wasp Stings

The following tips can help a person reduce the risk of being stung by venom: 

  • You should take utmost care while drinking sweet beverages outside. Open and wide cups might be a perfect option for you because one can easily see if there is any wasp in them. Always consider inspecting straws and cans before you drink from them. 
  • Tightly cover trash cans and food containers. 
  • Clear away feces of dogs or other animals, garbage, and fallen fruit as flies might attract wasps. 
  • While walking outside, preferably wear shoes that are closed on the toes. 
  • Avoid wearing floral or bright prints as they might attract insects. 
  • Refrain from wearing loose clothes as they can trap wasps or bees between your skin and clothes. 
  • Remove or hire professionals to remove nests and hives in your home. 

Always avoid swatting the wasp as it might increase the chances of being stung. If wasp stings a person or many wasps start to fly around, he should always cover his nose and mouth quickly and run away from the area. When a wasp stings, it tends to release a chemical to attract other bees. Therefore, a person should get into a closed vehicle or a building. 


Knowing what to do when a person is exposed to wasps is very important. If a wasp is flying around a person, he should stay calm and walk away slowly from the area. Remember to keep all the preventive measures discussed in this article in mind, and wasps will no longer be a threat to you!



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