How To Treat Wasp Stings

Wasp stings can be an uncomfortable and painful experience, however you can stay calm by understanding the types of reactions and how to avoid being stung.

Allergic reactions

Wasps have a stinger for self-defence that contains venom (a poisonous substance). Reactions to wasp stings varies from person to person, however you can become sensitised to stings as the venom accumulates in the human body. This means you are more susceptible to an allergic reaction if you have been stung multiple times.

  • Normal localised reaction: The usual reaction to a wasp sting is an initial sharp pain, redness and localised swelling where you have been stung. The sting site may also be painful and itchy.
  • Large localised reaction: In some cases, the swelling can spread from the sting site resulting in a larger swollen and red body area. This can happen after a person becomes hypersensitive to stings and suffers a mild reaction.
  • Anaphylaxis reaction: People hypersensitive and allergic to wasp venom can have a potential life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. This usually develops suddenly and the symptoms can escalate. The symptoms are: feeling faint, breathing difficulties, wheezing, hives, feeling sick and swelling.

Treatment for a normal localised reaction

You should treat a wasp sting immediately, and follow the guidance provided by the NHS.

  1. Remove the sting if it’s still in the skin.
  2. Wash the affected area with soap and water.
  3. Apply a cold compress or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Raise or elevate the affected area if possible, as this can help reduce swelling.

If you would like more information on wasp stings and anaphylaxis visit the NHS website.

Tips to avoid being stung

Make sure you take precautions to reduce your chance of being stung, especially during the summer months. You can react severely to wasp venom after just one sting, and even if you haven’t reacted to previous stings.

  • Avoid using sweet and floral fragrances – wasps are drawn in by strong scents so consider what perfumes, aftershave and other toiletries you use.
  • Avoid wearing bright colours or floral patterns – again these attract the yellow and black insects.
  • Be cautious in high wasp areas – keep an eye out for wasp activity when you’re near flowering plants, rubbish bins and outdoor food areas. These are target food sources for the insects.
  • Do not disturb a wasp nest – stay clear of wasp nests, as the insects are highly defensive and will attack in large numbers to defend their nest and young.
  • Remain calm if you encounter a wasp – try to not scream or wave your arms around as this causes wasps to become more agitated.  Protect your face and head as these are common wasp sting target areas. Attempting to swat a wasp because the insects can release a distress pheromone alerting other wasps nearby. Our operatives are trained to safely deal with your pest problem to prevent wasp sting ‘causalities’.

If you think you may have a wasp nest on your property then take a look at our "What Does A Wasp Nest Look Like" and "How To Get Rid of A Wasp Nest" articles.

If you have an active wasp nest on your property causing disruption book our wasp nest removal service.

Author: NBC Environment/Orkin

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