How To Treat A Wasp Sting

Most of us have had a bee sting at one time or another in our lives, and know that it can be quite painful even for those who aren’t allergic.  Wasps are a whole different cast of bees, hosting a much meaner sting with toxins to boot.  Yellow jackets are a very well known wasp across North America, though others such as the Paper Wasp  and the Bald-faced Hornet are similar wasp species found across the US, though can be considerably bigger.  Any of these wasps mostly cause trouble when they perceive a disruption or danger to their nests, which can unfortunately be in the ground, a fallen log, or other areas that are easy to stumble across.  Wasp aggression can vary from type to type, however, so some may be a lot more likely to sting further away from their nests, while others rarely cause trouble without actual damage to their homes.


What are the symptoms of a wasp sting?

  • The initial sting almost always hurts quite a bit, hence the name, which can feel like anything from a needle injection to an electric shock at the first point of contact.
  • After the actual sting, continued pain, swelling, tenderness, irritation, itchiness, and likely redness to the affected area is common.
  • With wasps, these symptoms may last a few minutes, but more likely will last for a few hours.
  • Some people will have allergic reactions to the wasp toxin, and the reaction can move through their entire body, where their immune system is highly sensitive to the wasp venom.  In this case, difficulty breathing, rashes or spots, and swelling in the mouth or throat may occur, sometimes as soon as within one hour after the sting.  If you are experiencing these kinds of severe symptoms, you MUST get medical attention immediately, as some cases may result in anaphylactic shock, which is life threatening.
  • Lastly, while rare, some people experience a delayed reaction to the wasp venom, which can happen days or even weeks after the sting happened, and may include itching, rashes, and even fever to the brain, blood vessels, nerves, blood clotting, or kidney inflammation.


How can I treat a wasp sting?

  • The common or broad leaf Plantain (plantago major) and long leaf or English Plantain (plantago lanceolata) are fantastic herbal solutions for treating local or delayed reactions to a wasp sting.  Pluck a handful of these leaves from the base of the plant, clean them, chew or mash them up and you can then apply them directly as a poultice.
  • Aloe Vera gel is also an excellent treatment, cooling and soothing the heat of the sting.  If you happen to have fresh aloe vera, you can break off one of the leaves or the tip, and open it up.  Lay the open leaf directly on the sting, or scoop out the gel and lather the gel on.
  • You can also mix baking soda and vinegar in a one to one solution into a paste and coat it onto the sting, helping draw out the venom.
  • More conventional solutions include using benadryl or other antihistamines to reduce the swelling and pain, but also has the added benefit of helping in the case of any allergic reactions to the toxins.
  • In an emergency situation an epi-pen can be very helpful while seeking medical attention.


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