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What To Do For Wasp Stings

Wasps can be a really serious problem for your home in Baton Rouge, especially during the warmer months of the year when they’re most active. Wasp stings can cause minor swelling, pain, and itching, but severe reactions can be life-threatening. Although it’s best to prevent wasps from coming to your home in the first place, sometimes stings are impossible to avoid.

We’ve collected effective ways to treat wasp stings in case they happen to you or your family. Don’t let wasps ruin your summer, and make sure you are prepared in case the worst happens.

Common Symptoms of Wasp Stings

If you or someone you love has been stung, find shelter away from more flying stingers in your home, a building, or a car. Once you’re not in danger of being stung, it’s time to take stock of what’s going on so you can decide how to respond to the sting.

Most of the time, wasp stings aren’t serious. But, even in an emergency situation, you’ll be able to respond to the problem better by remaining calm.

No matter whether or not you or the stung person is allergic to insect stings, the first symptoms that normally appear are redness and swelling in the site of the sting. If an allergic reaction occurs, it usually will take place between 15 to 30 minutes after the sting. So, if you aren’t sure whether you or the stung person has an allergy to insect stings or bites, monitor the symptoms for the first 15-30 minutes for signs of anaphylaxis, which are listed below.

Typical Reactions

Almost immediately after the sting, a red welt normally appears in the stung area. You may see a pale dot where the stinger pierced the skin. Most of the time, the redness and swelling will go away after a few hours, especially with wasp treatments that you can do at home.

Large Local Reactions

The term “Large Local Reaction” is usually used to describe swelling that is larger than normal or that lasts longer than a day or so. A large local reaction might include large, painful swelling that persists up to a week. A person might also experience nausea or vomiting. A large local reaction may indicate that the person is allergic to the sting. But usually the symptoms will reduce and disappear after a week or so.

You may not necessarily react the same way each time you receive an insect sting. You could experience a large local reaction once and never react the same way again. Some people have a worse reaction with each sting, but other people’s reactions decrease in intensity with each sting. Some sources say that symptoms increase with each sting while others say that symptoms don’t change.

The best way to prevent symptoms is to keep wasps away. If you are severely allergic, or if you continuously have problems with wasps on your property, the best way to keep wasps gone for good is to call a trustworthy professional for help.

Inform the Doctor

Talk to your doctor when you experience a large local reaction. They may direct you to use an antihistamine or swelling reducer that will help you feel more comfortable and help the symptoms. Most likely, they will recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, like an antihistamine (such as Allegra, Benadryl, or Zyrtec), or they might give you a prescription medication with stronger effects.

A doctor will also be able to find out the strength of your allergy to insect stings and bites. There are immunotherapy procedures available that can help reduce your risk of a severe reaction to future insect stings and bites.

Large Local Reaction vs. Systemic Reaction

Large local reactions are different from “Systemic Reactions” like anaphylaxis. Systemic reactions are much more severe because they can affect other functions of the body, like breathing, blood pressure, and cardiac strength and rhythm. If you experience swelling across your body, your entire body turns red or pale, or you are having difficulty breathing, call an ambulance for immediate emergency care.

Anaphylaxis — Systemic Reactions

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening systemic reaction caused by allergies to food, drugs (like penicillin), plant pollen, or stinging insects. If you or someone nearby experiences these reactions, call 911 for an ambulance and go to the emergency room for treatment immediately.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include:

  • Severe swelling, especially around the face, lips, or throat
  • Swelling in other areas of the body
  • Red rash
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Passing out
  • Chest tightness
  • Hoarse voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping
  • Pale or red color to the face and body
  • Weak or fast pulse

Those with severe allergies to wasp stings may not have all of these symptoms after the first sting. However, future stings will most likely include at least some of these symptoms.

If you have had anaphylaxis before, always carry a bee sting kit with you. The kit should include an epinephrine injection, or EpiPen, that has not expired. Epinephrine is another name for adrenaline, which is also known as the survival hormone. In the event of anaphylaxis, an epinephrine injection will stabilize your breathing, help your heart rate become strong and regular, and lower your blood pressure.

Since systemic reactions like this are extremely serious, it’s always best to be prepared. Especially if you or someone you know has a severe allergy, check out these additional things you can do in case anaphylactic shock.

How To Treat Wasp Stings

Hornets, yellow jackets, paper wasps, honey bees (including africanized bees), and fire ants all have poison that affects humans in similar ways. Each species may have different venom, but the symptoms and treatments are usually about the same. So, there’s no need to stress about which type of flying wasp or bee or ant did the stinging — just focus on treatment.

None of the following methods are effective enough to save someone from anaphylactic shock or from severe reactions to bee or wasp stings. If you or someone you know is experiencing an anaphylactic reaction, call 911 for emergency medical care immediately.

As long as the symptoms are mild or moderate enough, most wasp stings can be treated at home. The materials listed here can be purchased at your local pharmacy.

To treat a wasp sting:

  1. Clean the wound. We don’t want the sting to become infected. Gently lather soap on the affected area and rinse under cold water. Dry off with a clean towel.
  2. Place an ice pack over the site of the sting, but be careful not to hurt the skin by letting it get too cold. Remove the ice pack periodically to make sure the skin is getting enough circulation.
  3. Cover the sting with a bandage if you’d like. Try to avoid adhesive bandages, since these can irritate the skin.
  4. Change the bandage often to avoid infection.
  5. Over-the-Counter Medicine

    There are lots of products out there that will help reduce swelling and discomfort. Always use products according to the directions on the label.


    Antihistamines are a type of medicine that help reduce allergic reactions. An allergic reaction is caused, in part, by chemicals called histamines, which make you sneeze, induce swelling, and make your eyes and nose run. Many types of insect poison contain histamines or cause your body to produce them.

    Common over-the-counter antihistamines include:

    • Benadryl
    • Allegra
    • Zyrtec
    • Topical Creams

      Hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion both work well to soothe insect stings or bites. You can also use Caladryl, which is essentially calamine lotion combined with Benadryl. Be careful not to take Caladryl and Benadryl at the same time.

      Pain Relievers

      Ibuprofen (like the Advil brand), acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin), or another NSAID can decrease pain and reduce swelling.

      Home Remedies

      These remedies don’t necessarily treat wasp stings by themselves, so it’s best to combine these methods with proven practices and medicines.

      Baking soda or colloidal oatmeal are soothing on the skin. Either of these can be added to a bath or rubbed on the skin as a cream.

      Vinegar could be a remedy that may work against wasp venom. Theoretically, the acid in vinegar reacts to the alkalinity in wasp stings and neutralizes some of the poison’s effects.

      Soak a cotton ball in white vinegar or apple cider vinegar and gently press it against the affected spot. The pressure should help the pain and inflammation.

      Vinegar, however, cannot be used as a remedy for bee stings, which are acidic.

      What if I’m Stung by a Wasp While I’m Pregnant?

      If you are stung during pregnancy, the sting isn’t as likely to hurt the baby as a serious allergic reaction. Epinephrine is a naturally occurring chemical in both the mom and baby’s bodies, so using an epinephrine injection is the best option if the mom has an anaphylactic response to the sting. Obviously, the best thing to do next when the mother has a severe reaction is go to the hospital for further treatment.

      If the mother has a mild or moderate reaction to the sting, treatments like the creams, painkillers, and antihistamines above are extremely unlikely to hurt the baby, so it may be best for the mother to use them. However, the mother should avoid products with decongestants, which are found in some antihistamine medicines. Consult your physician for additional information and advice.

      What if My Child is Stung?

      Since they are unaware of the dangers of wasps and bees, children and toddlers are especially susceptible to stings. Ensure your child always wears shoes when they go outside to avoid stepping on an unseen wasp. Educate your child about the dangers of wasps and what to do if they see one or are stung by one. If your child has a severe reaction to a wasp sting, go to the emergency room.

      Virtually all the medicines listed above have been thoroughly tested and provide safe dosage amounts for children under a certain age. Alternatively, many medicines have also been developed specifically for children.

      The discomfort of mild and moderate reactions to stings should pass within a few days, but you may wish to consult your doctor if the reaction persists, if your child is excessively uncomfortable, or if they can’t sleep at night.

      The Differences Between Wasp and Bee Stings

      Treatments for wasp and bee stings are very similar. There are differences between each of the venoms’ chemical composition, but the symptoms they cause are pretty much the same.

      The main difference between treating a wasp sting versus a bee sting is the stinger. Whereas wasps have a straight stinger that they can use to sting a victim multiple times, honeybees have a barb in their sting, so the stinger gets stuck in your skin. The bee struggles to pull free and leaves behind a special sac that pushes more venom into your skin. The bee doesn’t make it very far before it dies.

      Remove the stinger from your skin using your fingernails, a credit card, or another straight, blunt instrument. Don’t try to use your fingers. Scrape off the sting quickly and carefully.

      Prevent Wasp Stings for Good

      For many people, they can use these DIY methods to keep wasps away. However, for those who are allergic to wasp stings, the best thing to do is to call the professionals.

      >Fox Pest Control in Baton Rouge is an excellent way to keep you and your family safe from wasp problems. Our Pest Pros will perform an inspection of your home and develop a specialized treatment plan specifically suited to your needs.

      With our environmentally friendly, family and pet-safe products, you won’t have to worry about pests anymore. Fox Pest Control can allow you to concentrate on what matters most to you.

      Fox Pest Control. No Bugs. Simply Better.

      Posted on July 6, 2020.

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