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What should I do in case of a wasp or bee sting?

By Chris Williams on August 6, 2014.

Bee and Wasp Sting Symptoms

Most reactions to bee and wasp stings are mild, resulting in a slight swelling and an itching or stinging sensation that disappears within a day or two. People who are allergic to wasp or bee stings can have an immediate life‑threatening reaction called anaphylactic shock that requires medical intervention.

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction requiring immediate medical attention include nausea, stomach cramps, facial swelling, difficulty breathing or speaking, anxiety, dizziness, rapid heartbeat and shock.

What to do if Stung by a Bee or Wasp

For a non‑allergic sting, remove the stinger if stung by a bee. The longer the stinger remains in the skin, the more the venom is released and the larger the welt left by the sting. Scrape the stinger off with a fingernail or remove it with tweezers. Yellow Jackets and other wasps don’t leave their stingers behind. Wash the area with soap and water and apply a cold pack or cloth filled with ice. For pain, use an over‑the‑counter pain killer, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

For itchiness, apply a topical cream containing hydrocortisone, lidocaine or pramoxine, or use an itch cream containing calamine lotion or baking soda. Take an antihistamine such as Benadryl or Chlor‑Trimeton. Sometimes an initially mild reaction develops some lesser allergic symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea or swelling larger than four inches in diameter at the sting site.

If any of these symptoms occur, or if the swelling extends beyond the joint where stung, see a doctor. This could be an indication that the person is developing a more serious allergy to stings. For an allergic sting, call 911 for emergency help and mention the sting. Check for medications that the person might be carrying to treat an allergic attack, such as an EpiPen.

Administer the drug as directed ‑‑ usually be pressing the auto‑injector against the person’s thigh for several seconds. Loosen tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket. Don’t give them anything to drink. If the person is vomiting or bleeding from the mouth, turn them on their side.

Begin CPR if the person’s not breathing. Make sure someone stays with the person for 24 hours after anaphylaxis, in case of another attack. For more information about insect stings, contact Colonial Pest Control at 1‑800‑525‑8084.

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