Wasps are neither bees nor ants; but like bees, wasps are equipped with a venomous stinger that they use for self-defense. When a wasp stings, the sac of venom contracts and pump venom into the tissue. This is what causes skin irritation and discomfort. Unlike bees, wasps can sting more than once during an attack. It is because their stingers remain intact.
A wasp sting is common during the summer season where people stay outside for longer hours. The sting is surely uncomfortable but most people recover from it without complication.
Symptoms of a Wasp Sting
A sharp or burning pain will be felt as an initial sensation upon the wasp sting. Thus redness, swelling, and itching will soon manifest in the skin where the wasp stings. Moreover, the patient will develop a raised welt around the sting site and a tiny white mark may be visible in the middle of the welt. These symptoms are just minor and are most commonly shown in patients who do not have sting allergies. Patients may feel the pain and swelling recedes within several hours after being stung.
More pronounced symptoms of wasp sting are called “large local reactions”, which can be fatal for children, most especially if stung multiple times. People who have large local reactions may be allergic to a wasp sting. It includes extreme redness and swelling that increase for 2 to 3 days and enlarges up to 12 inches across after the sting. Patients may also experience swelling of an entire extremity or limb that will last for a few days. Additionally, rarely swelling and joint pain may appear after several days.
Doctors may direct patients to take an over-the-counter antihistamine medication to reduce discomfort. After a course of a week or so, it should subside on its own.
Large local reactions could lead a patient to one strong reaction that will never show the same symptom if the patient is stung again, or it could be the way your body routinely responds to wasp stings.
There is an occurrence where the body goes into shock in response to wasp venom. The mentioned occurrence causes severe allergic reactions to wasp sting called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis requires immediate treatment because the symptoms listed below are what patients may likely to experience after a subsequent sting. Patients may not experience all the listed symptoms, however, at least some of it may occur at once.
- Severe swelling of the face, lips or throat
- Hives or itching in areas not affected by the sting
- Breathing difficulties
- A sudden drop in blood pressure
- Lightheadedness which includes confusion, anxiety or agitation
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomach cramps
According to Mayo Clinic, 30 to 60 percent of patients that go through anaphylactic shock are more likely to show the same wasp sting reaction in the future. Doctors advise patients to include epinephrine injections (EpiPens) to their bee sting kit. EpiPens will help the muscle and blood vessels relax, helping the heart and respiration rates return to normal.
For severe wasp sting reactions, the following can help to administer:
- Additional EpiPen to calm the immune system
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if breathing has temporarily stop
- Oxygen, steroids, or other medications to improve breathing
Treating Wasp Sting
There are mild to moderate reactions treatment that can do at home. But first on the list the following steps:
- Remove sting venom by washing the sting area with soap and water.
- Apply a cold pack to reduce pain and swelling.
- Keep the wound clean and dry to prevent infection.
- Cover the wound with a bandage if desired.
The patient can also use over-the-counter pain relievers to manage pain. There are antihistamine medicines as well as hydrocortisone cream, or calamine lotion that can reduce the itching or skin irritation. Baking soda and oatmeal are also soothing to the skin. The patients can use these in a bath or through medicated skin creams if skin irritation becomes bothersome. Lastly, a patient might consider for a tetanus shot if he or she haven’t boost in the last 10 years.
The Do’s and Don’ts When Stung by a Wasp
- Remain calm and walk away from the wasp area. Remember that the same wasp can sting again.
- By the sight of the stinger, remove it promptly by wiping it over in a piece of gauze; or scrape a fingernail, piece of card or bank card over it.
- Wash the site of sting with soap and water.
- Apply a cold compress to reduce the swelling.
- Stay with the person stung to watch out for any severe reaction that could develop.
- Call for urgent medical help if allergic reactions begin to manifest.
- Neither squeeze the stinger nor remove it by tweezers as this may inject more venom to the patient.
- Do not scratch the sting.
- Do not burst any blisters that develop as this can lead to infection.
Wasp sting may result in severe reaction; moreover, it can lead to affecting the nervous system. This problem is precipitated by a blood clot that was caused by a severe reaction to a wasp sting. Affecting the nervous system may result in muscle weakness, pupil dilation, and motor aphasia–an impairment of speech and writing abilities. This case is extreme but it is highly unlikely to occur.
Wasp Stung Prevention
Here are some practical steps to prevent being stung by wasps.
- Do not wear brightly colored and floral clothing, instead wear light-colored, smooth one that is not too loose.
- Keep your clothes clean and maintain personal hygiene, as sweat may anger bees. However, avoid using fragrances, toiletries, and cosmetics that have floral or banana-related scents.
- Do not wear open-toed shoes.
- Call a professional service to remove a wasp nest near the home.
- Always cover the food containers and trash cans.
- It will be easier to see insects if use widely brimmed cups when drinking sweet drinks.
- Use non-harmful traps or repellent products.
- Take extra care during outside activities. Avoid something that could provoke a nest.