How to treat a wasp sting

A wasp sting can be very painful.  Wasps do not leave a detached barb in the skin but inflict multiple stings, increasing the amount of venom injected. If you are stung around the mouth, throat or face swelling can cause an airway obstruction.  Some people may even have an allergic reaction to the venom. Thankfully the majority of us experience a mild to moderate reaction.  Naturally the treatment required after a wasp sting depends upon the individual's reaction.

Treating a mild to moderate reaction to a wasp sting

Symptoms may include

  • A sharp pain or burning at the sting site
  • Redness
  • Swelling and/or itching 

Treatment

You can treat mild and moderate reactions to wasp stings at home.

  • Wash the sting area with soap and water to remove as much of the venom as possible.
  • Apply a cold pack to the wound site to provide some mild relief and to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Use hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion if itching or skin irritation becomes bothersome.
  • Keep the wound clean and dry to prevent infection.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen for pain relief, if required.

Treating a severe reaction to a wasp sting

Some people experience a severe allergic reaction to a wasp sting as their body goes into shock.  This is known as anaphylaxis.

Symptoms may include

  • Severe swelling of the face, lips, or throat
  • Hives or itching in areas of the body not affected by the sting
  • Breathing difficulties, such as wheezing or gasping
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Light-headedness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach cramps
  • A weak or racing pulse

Most people who go into shock after a wasp sting do so very quickly.  Severe allergic reactions to wasp stings require immediate medical attention.  Call emergency services on 111.