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Wasp Sting - Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on September 7, 2013

What is Wasp Sting?

Wasps are a member of an order that includes bees, hornets and ants which are widely common in the U.S. The stingers of wasps are smooth and can be easily withdrawn from a victim’s skin. This enables wasps to strike a person’s skin multiple times. Bees are much better known as toxic, but take note that wasps have an aggressive behaviour which we should be warned about.


Wasp stings are found incredibly painful that getting aid is should be emergent. Wasps are highly aggressive; they can sting you even when they’re unprovoked. There are factors that involve in the presentation of the symptoms. First the location of the sting is important to know where treat the reaction. The number of stings would weigh how much damage that the wasp has given. Immune response of the individual can be a factor too; those who were previously exposed to wasp sting can manifest less reaction. And the last factor involves the health of the victim, may he/ she be strong enough to fight off the venom.

Local reactions are the most common type of reaction from a wasp sting. Symptoms would include the following:

  • Pain, redness, swelling, warmth and itching at the sting site.
  • Large (greater than 4 inches across) local reactions have greater degree of swelling that can last for a week.
  • Bacterial skin infection may emerge during the first 12- 36 hours.
  • Hives around the site may develop.

This minor reaction would usually take up for a few hours but there are instances where longer a reaction takes place. If the reaction lasts for days, consulting a physician is a must.

Major reactions for some people from a wasp sting cause severe symptoms. This presents a systemic reaction has taken place. The common affected individuals are the old, very young or asthmatic patients. They are known susceptible to greater sensitivity reaction for their compromised immune system. The symptoms may appear for hours or days after the bite. It may be acute but the reaction would be grave. The following are the manifestations of a major reaction:

  • Hives all over the body with itching.
  • Flushing of the skin.
  • Swelling of the face.
  • Cramping in the abdominal area.
  • Painful joints
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Breathing problems
  • Shock
  • Hypotension
  • Anxiety

Severe cases would result to death because of difficulty in breathing, unconsciousness and shock.


A wasp sting can cause intense stinging sensation which contains 5% of the dry weight of venom. Wasp venom contains up to thirteen different antigens thus causing the acetylcholine of our body to react and do its course of action. After that, intense vascular spasm occurs as an effect of the inflammatory process.

The wasp venom can directly cause release of histamine, resulting to increased inflammatory response resulting to localized swelling and redness at the site of wasp sting. People who have not been exposed to the antigens that the venom contains would have an extensive reaction.

Allergic reaction is an immediate type of hypersensitivity that occurs after a wasp injects their venom to people. This occurs when people of overly sensitive immune system react to the venom. An allergic reaction may happen and spread out to the entire body. There are cases of fatality. This reaction may not occur to all people, especially those who have had previous allergic reaction to the same type of insect. Instances of multiple stings, serious allergic reaction can occur even to those who had prior reaction to it. Cases of deaths have been reported and that prompt intervention is needed.


The removal of a stinger is not necessary in the first aid of wasp sting. The wasps do not leave stingers to their victims. But they are highly fatal for they have the tendency to strike many times.

Once you have been stung by a wasp, be keen in observing for an allergic reaction. Known allergic people should take prompt treatment for it can lead to severe reactions. First thing to do is apply an ice pack or cloth dipped in cold water. Make sure the sting is kept cold for an hour. Make a cotton ball saturated with an acidic solution, i.e. vinegar, and wet the area with it. Calamine lotions are known for relieving itchiness and pain, that’s why it’s a good alternative remedy for wasp sting. An antihistamine medication is a help in reducing the inflammation that has occurred on the sting site. Epinephrine is given to persons with severe manifestations of wasp sting.

Prevent yourself from being stung. If you are known to be in area surrounded by a swarm of wasps, move out slowly. Remember that wasps are aggressive; being discreet may help you from being stung. Use of insect repellents is effective, too. Stay away from the things that attract wasps such as flowers, trees, bushes and piles of wood. Use long garments as much as possible, especially if you live in areas near wasps.


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    • profile image


      5 months ago

      My brother got bitten by a wasp his whole body swelled up and it looked like he was developing huge pimples if I may say all over even his ears were swollen he was rushed to the hospital and given an injection two hours later the itching had stopped and the swelling had gone Down a bit

    • profile image

      Tee pee 

      14 months ago

      My son got biten by wasp after 24 hours we notiec swelling his hand.... couldn't sleep...

    • profile image

      Rob Fallon 

      6 years ago

      I was drinking a can of pop that 1 went in and as I got to the end of the can I got stung on my bottom lip, spit it out and squashed it ;( lip is puffy anyone know how long this will be puffy?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Those pictures made me say Ouch! Great hub. Thanks for sharing. I voted it up and useful.


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