Summer is the time for fresh fruits and berries. But we should remember that other creatures like sweet and juicy apples, pears and apricots just as much as we do. Be careful to avoid being stung by a wasp or a bee while enjoying your fruits. The consequences of a sting can be serious. A wasp or bee sting causes pain, burning, redness and swelling. The symptoms usually subside within 1-2 hours. The swelling of the face may stay for up to 2 days. In this article we will find out what to do if you are stung by a bee or a wasp, what is the proper first aid treatment for stings, and what you can do to avoid them.
If you are stung by a wasp
Most wasp and bee sting accidents occure between July and August. Different people have different reactions to the venom of those insects, but being stung by a wasp or a bee is always painful. The sting causes pain comparable to the pain from a burn. But the most important thing is that the sting can cause consequences ranging from swelling to a strong allergic reaction. If you are stung, immediately take measures to keep the venom from spreading into your body.
What to do if you are stung by a wasp or a bee
The pain from a sting is hard to miss, so you can immediately identify the place of the sting and render first aid. The following advices are for single stings – if you have multiple bee or wasp stings, seek medical help immediately!
To determine what kind of insect stung you, examine the place of the sting. Only bees leave their stinger in the wound, so if you are stung by a wasp, don’t look for the stinger.
You may need the following to render first aid:
- A pair of tweezers, a needle or other tool to remove the stinger;
- Alcohol, iodine solution, hydrogen peroxide or soap to disinfect the wound;
- Antihystamine medicine such as Claritin or Zodac (read the instructions for dosage and contraindications).
If you are stung by a bee or a wasp, you should:
- Thoroughly wash the skin to clean the dirt and the traces of the venom;
- Carefully remove the stinger to keep the venom from spreading;
- Wash your hands and disinfect the tools before the procedure;
- Disinfect the wound itself;
- Apply cold;
- Take an antihystamine medicine, even if you never had any allergies.
If you are stung by a wasp or a bee, you are experiencing stress, so you should lie down for a while. Drink a lot of liquid while the swelling remains. Hot sweet tea or sweetened water are recommended. The pain, the reddening and the swelling usually subside within a few hours. If you are stung in the face, the swelling may remain fo up to 2 days.
If you are stung by a wasp or a bee – folk medicines
The most favorite folk medicine – alcohol – should be avoided because it will worsen the swelling. But there are other folk medicines that could be of use:
- The sting can be treated with parsley: crush a parsley leaf and put the sap onto the sting;
- Treat the wasp sting with fresh urine – the urine is sterile, which makes it a popular component in folk medicine for treating bites, scratches and burns;
- Bee and wasp venoms are chemically different. The wasp venom can be neutralized by lemon juice, the bee venom can be treated with a regular liquid soap;
- Acid may help subside the pain – apply a sour berry, a sorrel leaf, a slice of lemon or some vinegar to the sting;
- The sap of a dandelion can also ease the pain;
- Tea, ice, aloe vera, onion, parsley or fleawort can be applied to the sting to lessen the swelling;
- A sugar cube, some ice, a napkin soaked in cold water, or marigold extract can also subdue the swelling.
If you are stung by a bee
A child is stung by a wasp – what to do
What to do if a small child is stung by a wasp or a bee? Go to the hospital immediately if possible! Children are much more sensitive to wasp and bee stings than adults. If going to the hospital is not an option, render first aid on site. Remove the stinger as described above, disinfect the wound and apply cold to stop the venom from spreading and ease the pain. Salt solution can help stop the ingestion of venom: apply a swab of cotton soaked in salt water to the sting (a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of water). The salt will help exude the venom and the puss.
If a child is stung by a wasp or a bee, and you can see the symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as extreme swelling, breathing difficulties, blisters or rash – give the child an antihystamine medicine (read the instructions for the dosage for children) and treat the sting with an anti-itch cream such as Fenistil. Immediately call a doctor or take the child to the hospital. Keep in mind that a child is more likely to have an allergic reaction to a wasp sting if he has a tendency to asthma or other allergic disorders.
If you are stung by a wasp or a bee – when to go to the hospital
Don’t take your chances if you have multiple stings. It is assumed that more than 3 stings can cause an overall toxic reaction. If you are stung in the lip, the tongue or the throat, seek medical help immediately. The swelling may spread and lead to suffocation.
You need to go to a hospital immediately if:
- You are stung by a wasp or a bee in the face;
- You are stung by a wasp or a bee in the lip, the tongue or the throat;
- You are stung more than 3 times.
If you have a tendency to allergic reactions, bring along an antihystamine medicine every time you go to the countryside. People with allergies may experience dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, anaphylactic shock (a drop in blood pressure, shortness of breath, wheezing), convulsions or loss of consciousness from wasp or bee stings. The first aid after a sting may be complemented by the use of tourniquet above the site of the sting. To prevent the drop of blood pressure, 25 drops of Coramine can be administered.
If you are stung by a hornet
What to do if you are stung by a hornet
The sting of a hornet is painful, but the toxicity of the venom varies among different species. Some types of hornets sting no worse than many other insects while some types are classified as the most poisonous of known insects. In some cases, a hornet sting may lead to anaphylactic shock and death if the victim is not treated immediately. The consequences of the sting depend on the individual reaction of the person. The venom of common hornets and most other species is less toxic than the venom of bees. The stinger does not get stuck in the skin (although a hornet can sting several times in a row). A large amount of injected venom causes severe inflammation. In the Schmidt sting pain index, hornets are positioned in the middle of the scale along with honey bees (moderate pain). So the danger of the hornet is mostly overrated: its sting does not match the size of the insect.
If your countryside home plot is inhabited by hornets, try to trap them. To make a hornet trap, put a half-inch layer of sugar in a glass jar, add 5 ounces of water and some beer to fill the jar to the half. Close the jar with a tin lid and make a cut in the lid in the form of a cross, bending the edges inward.
If you are stung by a wasp, a bee, a hornet or other insects – useful information
- A bee can only sting once in its life, its barbed stinger gets stuck in the skin and torn off, which kills the bee;
- Wasps, hornets and bumblebees can sting multiple times because their stingers are smooth, the best you can do is run away from them;
- You should never kill the hornet that stung you, because other hornets will attack you immediately. The body of a dead hornet releases a chemical that urges nearby hornets to attack;
- Wasps sting people more often than bees do;
- A wasp sting is much more painful than a bee sting. A hornet sting is similar to a bee sting in terms of pain;
- Several dozen of wasp stings cause an overall toxic reaction. Stings of 500 or more wasps are considered lethal.