Bee or wasp sting: what to do (and when to go to the hospital)

Bee or wasp sting: what to do (and when to go to the hospital)

First aid

After a bee or wasp sting, what you should do is: remove the stinger, keep the area clean and apply ice to relieve pain and swelling.

If symptoms such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, tingling or abdominal pain appear, you should go to the hospital, as they may indicate a serious allergic reaction, which needs to be treated appropriately.

Although most bee and wasp stings can be treated at home, if a serious situation is suspected, it is recommended to go to an emergency room.

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What to do in case of a bite

In case of a bee or wasp sting, you must:

  1. Remove the stinger with the help of tweezers or a needle, if the stinger is still in the skin (wasps generally do not leave the stinger);
  2. Wash the affected area with cold water and soap;
  3. Apply an antiseptic to the skinsuch as povidone-iodine, for example;
  4. Apply a piece of ice wrapped in a paper towel or cloth to reduce swelling and relieve pain;
  5. Apply an ointment for insect bites on the affected area and let it dry without covering the skin.

If other symptoms appear, such as worsening redness, feeling short of breath, swelling of the face or low blood pressure, it is recommended to seek emergency care, as these symptoms may indicate anaphylaxis, a serious allergy. Know how to identify other symptoms of anaphylaxis.

How to deswell the bite

To reduce the swelling of the bite more quickly, ice can be applied to the area, wrapped in a clean cloth, several times a day, for about 15 minutes. Furthermore, it also helps to sleep with the bite site a little higher than the rest of the body.

In more serious cases, the doctor may also recommend the use of corticosteroids, such as prednisone or prednisolone, and antihistamines, such as loratadine or desloratadine, to reduce swelling and other symptoms, such as redness and itching. Discover the main antihistamine medications.

When to go to the doctor

It is recommended to seek an emergency in case of:

  • Worsening redness, itching and swelling at the bite site;
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing saliva;
  • Shortness of breathe;
  • Swelling of the face, mouth or throat;
  • Feeling faint or dizzy;
  • Tingling in the head, armpit or groin;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Nausea or vomiting;
  • Diarrhea.

These symptoms can occur around 30 minutes after the event and are generally signs of a more serious allergic reaction, and it is recommended to seek emergency care so that appropriate treatment can be started as soon as possible.