Wasps belong to a four-winged order of insects known as Hymenoptera. It is the female wasp that stings perceived attackers, and these stings quickly become a painful, itchy and unsightly nuisance. The inevitable redness and swelling is the result of infection-fighting fluid from the blood being sent to the afflicted area to cleanse venom toxins from the point of penetration. The best treatment for a wasp sting involves multiple procedures, though a quick initial response will greatly reduce the healing time involved.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Dull, thin object (e.g., butter knife or playing card)
- Over-the-counter oral antihistamine (e.g., Benadryl)
- Over-the-counter cream-based antihistamine
Scrape a dull, thin object such as a butter knife or playing card gently over the area where the sting occurred to dislodge the stinger. Remove the stinger with tweezers if a dull object is not immediately available. Avoid rupturing the venom sac on the end of the stinger during removal, as doing so will cause more venom to enter your system.
Wash the afflicted area with soap and warm water. Wrap ice in a damp washcloth. Apply this ice pack to the wound for 10-minute periods with 10-minute gaps of time in between to reduce swelling and ease pain.
Take an over-the-counter antihistamine medication, such as Benadryl, according to the instructions on the package. This will help reduce or eliminate any potential allergic reactions to the sting. Recommended dosages for young children will likely differ from dosages recommended for people 12 and older.
Apply liberal doses of cream-based antihistamines to the afflicted area according to the instructions on the container. This step of the treatment may require repeated applications over a course of days until swelling and pain or itchiness subside.
Tips and warnings
- Removing a stinger within 15 seconds of penetration greatly reduces the intensity of the reaction. The venom that is pumped from the venom sac of a stinger into the skin of the victim can continue to flow for up to a minute after the initial penetration.
- Avoid scratching where you've been stung, as doing so can open up the punctured area to infection.
- Extreme and life-threatening allergic reactions to wasp stings -- known as anaphylaxis -- require immediate professional medical attention. Anaphylactic reactions are severe enough to cause death within an hour of stinging, making a speedy ride to the nearest hospital emergency room crucial.
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