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Wasp Sting: Symptoms, Anaphylaxis, Treatments & Complications

Wasp on human's finger.

In what condition will the wasps sting people?

Unless people step on their nest, wasps only sting during the later part of the summer season. During this time of the year, the social structure of these insects is breaking down. The annual cycle of their lives is entering into a new phase. Throughout the year they are raising worker wasps, but during this time they are raising fertile queens. These queens will hibernate over the winter season and after that initiate new colonies in the coming spring season. Because they want to protect their queen, therefore, they are very protective towards their nest.

If any human being goes towards its nest and start moving or shaking it the wasps will attack. Mostly after one wasp attack, a swarm comes in because during their sting they produce a pheromone that signals other wasps to come and join the party. However, keep in mind that wasps will only attack or sting if you threaten them in any way. They do not like sudden movements. If a wasp approaches you, then you better remain calm. It will only inspect your smell and leave very peacefully. If you start screaming and jumping then, you are inviting it to sting you.

How dangerous are their stings?

A thorn in the flesh.Stingers are more common in Hornets just like bees, and they contain a poisonous substance. The stinger of a wasp remains intact, and therefore, it can sting multiple times and can induce a significant amount of irritation and temporary pain. Wasp stings are common during the later part of summer when people tend to spend long hours out in the open. Wasp stings are dangerous only if you are allergic to them. Multiple wasp stings at the same time or sequential wasp stings only cause allergic reactions, and they start to appear in one week’s time. These stings are not comfortable, but most of the time you will recover pretty quickly without any issues at all. Some people also use home remedies for these stings. Approximately 10% of humans have adverse effects from these stings.

You can take simple measures to prevent yourself from these wasp stings. First of all, make sure that you stay away from the nests of these insects. They usually sting when they feel that you are a threat to their nest. Avoid any sudden movements if you are in direct contact with a wasp. Sudden movements trigger the attacks, and they can sting multiple times as well. Most of all with their sting they will also release a pheromone that will signal other wasps in the area, and soon many wasps will surround you. When you are out in the open make sure that you wear long sleeves with shoes and trousers s that none of your body parts are exposed. If you see these stinging insects flying around you, then try to get away as slowly as possible.

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If you have any exposed skin, then apply some good quality insect repellent to it. Stay away from fruit trees, flowers as well as insect nests where these wasps wander around most of the time. Ensure that you keep your drinks and food at all times out in the open. Don’t wear bright colored clothes as wasps and other insects attracted to these colors. Make sure that you do not bother any of these wasps and if you have a wasp nest near your house then contact pest control instantly to get rid of it.

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Symptoms of wasp sting

The insects that belong to Hymenoptera insect class are the stingers. Paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets are the members of wasp species that sting humans. Their stingers are present at the tip of their abdomens, and only female wasps have them. The stinger detaches itself from the abdomen of a bee whereas, in the case of wasps, these stingers remain attached.  If you do not have any allergic sting reactions, then only minor symptoms will be observable. Sharp pain or burning will be the first sensation along with swelling, itching, and redness can also occur in the area that has been stung. A sting of a bee is pretty similar to the wasp sting. However, in the case of a bee sting, a venom sac remains within the wound. In the event of a bee sting, you need to get rid of this stinger or the sac will continue to deliver venom into the mast cells of your skin.

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1. Normal local reactions

Around the sting area you might develop a swollen welt, and in the middle of it, you will find a small white spot, which is where the stinger entered into your skin. After several hours the pain and the swelling will subside. Normally there are no serious issues caused in this case. You will only feel the burning sensation and pain in first few hours, right after the sting. You can use a cold block to relax the area that has been stung. It will also help in reducing the pain up to some extent. After that, it will get better with a slight pain in the wound that can remain for more than a couple of weeks.

2. Large local reactions

Comparing swollen male hands isolated towards white background.The term ‘large local reactions’, is used to describe the symptoms associated with these stings. People who experience these large local reactions are allergic to wasp stings. However, none of them are life-threatening allergic reactions. These allergic reactions only occur if the victim has been stung previously and develop insect venom sensitization. The symptoms of large local reactions may include severe swelling and redness that might last for a couple of days or even more. These symptoms subdue over the course of a week on their own. However, you may seek medical attention just in case for an over the counter medication.

Anaphylaxis following a wasp sting

Anaphylaxis is the most severe wasp sting allergic reaction. It occurs when your body goes into shock which usually happens due to the poisonous venom injected into your body. The people that go into shock show this symptom immediately after the sting. Immediate treatment of this allergic reaction is necessary. The symptoms of this allergic reaction include dizziness, a sudden drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, lightheadedness, and difficulties in breathing, severe swelling of the lips, throat, and face, itching in the non-stung areas, stomach cramp, fluctuating pulse, diarrhea and vomiting or nausea. You might not have all of these symptoms after the sting, but some of them will be observable.

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Treating wasp stings

In most cases, the wasp stings do not have any severe reactions, and after a few hours time, you will be feeling fine with reduces pain and swelling. In the case of mild to moderate allergic reactions, you need to apply something cool to the sting area so that any irritation subsides. Apple cider vinegar is a very effective natural remedy in case of wasp sting it will seal the wound and keep the harmful venom from spreading. Because the venom is acidic in nature, apple cider vinegar can be very useful.  In the case of severe allergic reactions, you must seek medical attention as quickly as possible and take medication to prevent any further issues.  Don’t try to rub or scratch the wound

1. For mild to moderate reactions

One can treat mild reactions at home with ease. You can wash the sting area using soap and water to wash away most of the venom. Application of a cold pack is essential so that the pain and swelling may reduce. Make sure that you keep your wound clean and that it does not develop any infection. You can also use a bandage for this purpose. If possible, use calamine lotions or hydrocortisone cream if you feel that the irritation or itching is bothering you. You can also apply colloidal oatmeal or baking soda to soothe your skin. These can also be used during bath or implemented with the help of medicated skin creams. One of the traditional home remedies is the application of apple cider vinegar on the wound. You can also use over the counter medication after proper medical advice to relieve your pain.

2. For severe reactions

Immediate medical treatment is necessary in the case of severe allergic reactions. If you know that you are allergic to wasp stings, then carry an Epi-Pen or a bee sting kit and administer it as quickly as possible. Seeking medical attention after administering the dosage is preferable. You can use additional epinephrine to soothe your mast cells directly associated with the immune system. Hymenoptera venom is known to cause this issue, and you can find it in hornets and yellow jackets. In the case of interrupted breathing or gasping you can also use cardiopulmonary resuscitation as well. You can use other medications such as steroids and oxygen for improved breathing.

Complications of wasp stings

At times wasp stings may remain persistent for a longer period that can last from several weeks to few months. In a few cases, the wasp stings do have a tendency to increase complications associated with the nervous system. According to a report published by Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, pediatric patients might experience weakness in muscles, blood flow problems due to systematic vascular resistance, motor aphasia, and pupil dilation after wasp stings. Motor aphasia is impairment associated with writing and speech abilities.

Bees on human's hand.There are also registrations of some cases of serum sickness, vasculitis, encephalitis, and. Some reports of secondary Parkinsonism are also on record right after the wasp stings. Not to mention cases of cerebral infarction are also present right after the anaphylactic reactions.  However, the complications associated with fatal allergic reactions are very extreme and are highly unlikely to take place. Most of the time, these complications only occur when bacteria enter the wound. Therefore, make sure that you clean the wound as soon as possible right after the sting and cover it with a bandage for prevention of further infection.

Wasp Sting vs. bee sting

The most familiar sting is a honey bee sting, but wasps are not far behind either. The significant difference between a bee’s sting and wasp’s sting is that bees leave their stingers in the stung area while wasps retain their stingers and can attach multiple times. A bee injects approximately 50 micrograms of venom when it stings while a wasp injects between 2 and 15 micrograms of venom but they also have a tendency to inject it numerous times.

Regarding chemical perspectives, both the venoms have different compositions. However, both the venoms do have similar effects on humans. There is a case that you might be allergic to one type of a sting but not the other type. The wasp venom contains various enzymes that are designed to break down the cell structures. It also contains some neurotransmitters including serotonin and acetylcholine. Some of the substances initiate histamine release which causes an intense allergic reaction, and the nerves start to fire.

Bee stings, on the other hand, are comprised more than 50% of melittin which is a potent toxin that stimulates any enzyme associated with inflammation.  Other reactions are pretty much similar to that of a wasp sting. The venoms of wasps, as well as bees, contain hyaluronidase which spreads the venom and breaks down the barriers within the cells.

It is better to get away far enough from the area where a wasp or a bee has stung you because with their sting they release a pheromone that signals others of the same pack. Application of anything that cools the wound down is helpful especially in keeping the mind away from the pain. If a honey bee stings you, then you have to make sure that the stinger should not remain in the skin. The venom sac remains intact with the bee stinger and it can continue to inject venom into the skin for some time this can cause blood flow problems due to systematic vascular resistance.

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