Being stung by a wasp can be a painful and unpleasant experience. It may even be dangerous if you find yourself in a situation where you could be stung multiple times. However, you can take steps to ease the pain and prevent infection or an allergic reaction. Knowing how to treat wasp stings can help protect you and your family, especially if you are near an area with many bees and wasps. Read on for a step-by-step guide to treating wasp stings, when you should see a doctor, and how to avoid getting stung in the first place.

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Steps To Take After a Wasp Sting

Follow the steps in the dropdown tabs below if you’ve been stung by a wasp.

If you get stung by a wasp, it’s important to move away from them slowly. Unlike bees (read more about the difference between bees, wasps, and hornets here), which leave their stingers in your skin, wasps can sting repeatedly. Small children are especially vulnerable to multiple stings. So, it’s best to leave the area as soon as possible. Your body heat may attract angry wasps, so don’t run away. Instead, walk away calmly.

After a sting, wash the affected area thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water. Wasp venom contains mild toxins and bacteria, so cleaning the area immediately is crucial to prevent infection and ease pain. Proper washing also removes any venom residue.

Apply a cold pack for 30 minutes at 10-minute intervals to reduce swelling, itching, and irritation. This reduces venom circulation and numbs pain nerves.

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin can effectively reduce pain and inflammation caused by stings for most people. When combined with a cold compress, these medications provide systemic and topical treatment. However, individuals with certain medical conditions should avoid nonprescription anti-inflammatory drugs.

An oral antihistamine like diphenhydramine can alleviate symptoms if the stung area swells, turns red, or itches significantly. Topical creams containing antihistamines, hydrocortisone, or other itch-relieving ingredients can also provide localized relief, except for rare whole-body reactions that require emergency medical attention.

When To See a Doctor

After an insect sting, minor swelling, redness, and itching may persist for a few days. However, immediate medical attention is necessary in case of difficulty breathing, tight throat, nausea, or worsening of symptoms. Although anaphylactic reactions are rare in adults, they may occur in individuals stung by a stinging insect for the first time. Those who have an allergy to insect venom should always carry epinephrine injectors with them.

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If the appearance of the sting site looks significantly worse after several days, it might indicate an infection that may require antibiotics. 

How To Avoid Future Stings

Being cautious around areas where wasps are present can help prevent stings. If you come across large, active nests on your property, I highly recommend you hire professionals to remove them. Never attempt to do it yourself.

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So, Is Treating Wasp Stings Important?

Wasp stings are painful and potentially dangerous if you get stung multiple times. Knowing proper emergency response brings relief, lowers infection risk, and helps spot severe allergic reactions that need quick care. Appropriate first aid like moving away, washing the area, applying cold, taking anti-inflammatories, and monitoring symptoms protect you and your family after being stung.

FAQs About Treating Wasp Stings

Should I remove the wasp stinger?

No, wasps can sting repeatedly without leaving stingers to remove. Simply wash the area and treat it.

Do home remedies like toothpaste stop the pain from a wasp sting?

No, toothpaste, vinegar, and plant juice don’t relieve wasp sting discomfort well. Anti-inflammatories and cold packs work better.

How long does wasp sting swelling last?

Swelling peaks at 24 hours for most people and fades over three to five days. Excessive/worsening swelling may indicate infection.

Can wasps cause scars?

Yes, scarring is possible if the wound becomes infected or excessively scratched. However, proper first aid can minimize the risk.

Editorial Contributors
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Abbie Clark


Abbie Clark is a writer and blogger. She is the founder of "Hey She Thrives", where she writes about all things motherhood, coupled with expert cleaning tips that echo the warmth and order of a loving home. She is also the co founder of "RideRambler." There, you can find all of the info you'll ever need on DIY car fixes and Auto news.When not writing, you can find Abbie chasing her toddler, trying a new cookie recipe, or fishing with her husband.

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Lori Zaino

Lori Zaino is a freelance writer and editor based in Madrid, Spain. With nearly two decades of editorial experience, she’s written and edited for publications like Forbes, CNN, Insider, NBC, Newsweek, The Points Guy, The Infatuation, and many others. Having just completed her first home renovation, she’s more interested in home improvements than ever, dedicated to bringing you fresh and accurate content to help you update your living spaces.

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