A wasp sting can be seriously scary, but don’t panic. Here’s what to do after you experience the painful sting of a wasp.
No one wants to be stung by a wasp. But with over 30,000 types of wasp, they can sometimes be difficult to avoid.
Most wasp stings happen during the summer and early fall when the weather is warm and we spend more time in the great outdoors.
For a majority of people, stings are a little bit painful, and a nuisance for a couple of days. But fear of a wasp sting can seriously ruin your time outside. Family barbeques, football games and afternoons spent in the sunshine can be seriously ruined if interrupted by the arrival of wasps.
It is important to remember that – if you suffer a wasp sting – not to panic. Our award-winning team have put together some simple steps to take to make sure you heal as quickly as possible and can continue to enjoy your time.
What Does a Wasp Look Like?
Wasps are a common sight in the warmer months, and look slightly different to bees.
Wasps have a very distinguishable shape, with a narrow ‘waist’ and a pointed lower body. They come in a huge variety of colors but are most commonly a shade of yellow to brown.
Why Does a Wasp Sting?
A wasp stings a human because they feel threatened, and they are defending themselves. In the wild, they also use their sting to paralyze and catch their prey.
There are two types of defensive wasp stings; they sting if they are trying to protect themselves, or if they feel agitated.
A wasp will sting you to protect themselves. If they feel threatened or attacked, they defend themselves and their home the only way that they can – by stinging.
A wasp will also sting you if they feel agitated. If they feel threatened, they’ll become annoyed and aggressive, and may sting. This can often happen when you’re trying to contain a wasp, and encourage it to get out of your home.
Look out for an Allergic Reaction
When a wasp stings, it injects a small amount of venom into the skin. For most people, this is usually unpleasant and slightly painful. The site of the sting tends to feel tender for up to a week.
However, some people are allergic to the venom that is injected by wasps. This allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. Fortunately, it is very rare to have a severe allergic reaction to insect stings; it is estimated that 3% of adults are affected.
However, it’s important to look out for an allergic reaction. Common symptoms include intense pain, severe swelling, sweating, tightness around the mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, and dizziness.
If you have been stung by a wasp and suspect that you might be having an allergic reaction, it’s important that you call 911 as quickly as possible.
What Does a Wasp Sting Look Like?
There is little physical evidence of a wasp sting immediately after it happens. There may be a small puncture wound and spot of blood where the stinger pierced the skin.
The area will soon turn red and slightly swollen as the venom begins to take effect. The spot where the stinger entered the skin may begin to look like a small white mark.
The area will become increasingly sore to the touch, and swelling may spread around the site. It is likely that the injury will feel sore, with a slight burning sensation.
Remove the Stinger
Wasp stingers don’t usually stay in the skin. It is smooth and retractable, meaning that a wasp can extend the stinger, sting and then leave unharmed.
This is why a wasp can sting repeatedly and quickly. This is unlike a bee, which usually leaves its stinger in the skin and dies.
If the wasp stinger does stay in the skin, it is important to remove it. The best way is to do this is to gently rub the area with a damp cloth in one direction only.
Do not try to remove the stinger by squeezing the skin or pulling with tweezers. Doing this will only release more venom into the skin, causing more pain, swelling, and redness.
Wash the Area
Once you are sure that the stinger is removed, it is important to wash the area thoroughly.
Use warm, soapy water to gently clean around the area of the sting. This will remove any remaining venom from the wound, and encourage healing.
Try to keep the area as clean as possible over the next few days while the skin recovers.
Use Cold Compresses
Once the area is clean, a cold compress can help to reduce swelling and numb mild soreness.
Apply a cold compress approximately every 15 minutes, refreshing once it warms to room temperature.
It’s important not to use a compress that is too cold, or you risk giving your skin an ice burn. Try using a damp cold cloth, or make sure that there is a layer of material between your skin and the cold compress.
A gentle and soothing ointment or cream like calamine lotion can also help to relieve sting symptoms.
Cover the area with the ointment, and then with a sterile bandage. Be sure to regularly change the bandage and keep the area as clean as possible.
Try Some Over-The-Counter Medication
Over-the-counter medication can help to reduce mild reactions while the injury heals.
Painkillers can help if the area is sore, burning or itching during the healing process. Antihistamines can help to reduce reactions such as swelling, itching or skin redness.
Before taking any medication, remember to read labels carefully and make sure that it is safe to use. If you have any questions, talk to a pharmacist or medical professional.
Experiment With Home Remedies
Keeping the area clean, using cold compresses and taking some medication should help to reduce physical reactions to a wasp sting. To help reduce any symptoms further, and to try to accelerate healing, some natural home remedies could help.
Acidic ingredients should help to neutralize the wasp venom that the body reacts to. Some popular remedies include applying apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the area around the sting.
Give Yourself Time to Heal
Most wasp stings completely heal within a couple of days. The exact timings are different for everyone, as everybody reacts slightly differently.
If the area of the wasp sting is not showing any signs of healing after a week, it would be a good idea to seek medical advice. Likewise, if the reaction becomes increasingly severe – becoming swollen, infected or more painful – it is also recommended that you visit a healthcare professional.
Prevent Wasp Stings
Nobody wants to suffer a wasp sting. Social wasps live in colonies that can reach thousands. Signs of a wasp infestation include flying insects, chewed wood and visible wasp nests.
The best way to prevent it is to make sure that wasps stay away from your home, yard and outdoor areas.
It’s a good idea to keep your trash sealed, and throw it away regularly. The same goes for food and drinks. Otherwise, you’ll be attracting wasps to the area that are seeking food, and only increase your risk of a sting.
If possible, avoid wearing bright colors and strong, sweet perfumes. Again, these will only attract wasps. They are naturally attracted to these colors and smells as they are similar to flowers.
If a wasp or a swarm begins to come near you, try to resist running and waving your arms. This may feel like a natural reaction, as you try to prevent the wasps from getting near you. However, this is more likely to aggravate the wasp, and they may try to sting in order to defend themselves. Instead, try to back away quickly and calmly.
Try your best not to aggravate a wasp. They emit a hormone called pheromones when they’re distressed, calling other wasps in their colony to their defense. If you’re near the colony, you’re much more likely to be stung.
How to Get Rid of Wasps
If you think you have an infestation, it’s important to take action.
If there is an infestation, keep as far away as possible. If you get too close to a wasp nest, they may feel threatened. They will then try to defend themselves, and you’re at risk of a wasp sting.
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