How to Treat a Wasp Sting

Symptoms of a wasp sting

  • Sharp pain or stinging in area where stung
  • Redness and swelling at location of sting
  • Itching

Treatment for a wasp sting

Apply a cold compress. Use a cloth or plastic bag so ice is not applied directly to the skin. Hold the cold compress on the sting site for 15 - 20 minutes.

Take an over the counter antihistamine unless you have to avoid antihistamines for medical reasons. If you are not sure talk to your pharmacists or call your doctor.

If you have some vinegar handy you can apply it to reduce pain in the sting area.

If the person who is stung has an allergic reation to the sting or if they are allergic to other stinging insects, contact a doctor or emergency services immediately. Don’t wait to see if the patient is showing signs of an allergy. Get medical attention immediately.

Health and Medical Disclaimer

Allergic symptoms to watch for:

  • Feeling “off” or “strange”
  • Flushed
  • Rapid pulse
  • Throat feels full or tight
  • Tighness in chest
  • Cough

More severe signs of an allergic reaction may include:

  • Rash
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure) or feeling faint
  • Raspy breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhoea or vomiting

Later symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:

  • Severe swelling all over body and/or hands, face, tongue, lips
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Airway obstruction


NOTE: Allergic reaction and symptoms of a sting normally occur shortly after being stung. Normally signs show up in less than an hour. Some people react immediately.

“Allergic reactions, fatal in severe cases, can occur -- an individual suffering from anaphylactic shock may die unless treated immediately via epinephrine (“adrenaline”) injection using a device such as an EpiPen, with prompt follow-up treatment in a hospital.”

How to avoid getting stung

  • Cover trash cans securely with lids.
  • If you are at a picnic, make sure to look within your drink before consuming it.
  • Keep an eye on your canned drink. Wasps are especially attracted to canned beers and sodas.
  • Wasps seem to be attracted to the smell of fish or sandwich meat. Be careful to avoid getting the smell on your hands while eating, as they will be attracted to it.
  • If you are at a picnic, wait to put the food out until everyone is ready to eat.
  • Avoid picnic tables near trash cans.
  • Stay away from nests, especially in late summer.
  • If a nest looks like it is going to be a problem, it is much better to remove it in early spring. Call a professional.
  • If the nest is not in a critical spot, leave it alone. Most wasps are beneficial, consuming many pests.

Click here to find out more about wasps.

Watch a video of the tarantula hawk, a member of the wasp family that preys on tarantulas.

Click here for more about animals.


Health and Medical Disclaimer

The information provided on this web site and by this web site through content provided by Authors or third party providers, and in other sources to which it refers, is PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY and should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease.

Information provided at and by DesertUSA is NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE. If you have a medical concern, or suspect you have a health problem you should consult your primary doctor or specialist.

If you cannot agree to this Health and Medical Disclaimer, you are not permitted to use this web site and should exit immediately.


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