Insect Stings First Aid

Avoid Wasp Bee Stings

Eliminate Stinging Insects: 07427 626686

european hornets in a shed
Hornets nesting in a garden shed in Bristol

What To Do If You Are Stung!

Your aim with a casualty who has been stung is to reduce as far as possible any swelling or discomfort.

If the casualty is showing any of the following signs or symptoms, you need to call “999” immediately for help and advice!

  1. Have a known allergy to stings.
  2. Lose consciousness or become unresponsive.
  3. Become confused or disorientated.
  4. Develop a respiratory wheeze.
  5. Experience difficulty breathing.
  6. Get stung in the mouth, or on the head or neck.

First Aid For Mild Insect Sting Reactions.

Signs and symptoms of a mild reaction to insect stings

  1. Fear and anxiety
  2. Localised swelling
  3. Skin blistering
  4. Pain
  5. Nausea
  6. Hot, constricted
  7. Mild, raised itchy rash (hives)

What to do next?

Make yourself safe, with a physical barrier or good distance between you and any stinging insects.

Honey bees use their sting as a defence whereas wasps use their sting as a means of defence and subduing insect prey.

Honey bee stingers have barbs to ensure it remains lodged in the threat. Wasps do not have barbed stingers so they can use theirs multiple times!

What Happens When You Are Stung?

Avoid Wasp Bee Stings
How To Avoid Wasp & Bee Stings.

Being stung is an experience some people are indifferent too, for others though the experience can be terrifying.

First, you feel a very sharp, searing or burning pain, then a throbbing discomfort that can last for days.

The area affected will often present with a white swollen centre that can sometimes blister and weep surrounded by a red ring.

This blister can become infected over time and even scar.

How Do You Remove A Bee Sting?

The bee sting needs to be removed as soon as possible to reduce the continued flow of venom from the venom sack attached to the sting.

To remove the sting take a fingernail, credit card or blade and scrape the sting off.

Avoid using tweezers as you may compress the venom sack and inject more venom into the sting site.

Once the sting is removed, wash the injury site with soap and water, elevate it where possible and apply a cold compress a bag of frozen peas or similar wrapped in cloth should be fine.

A venom extractor is often very effective in limiting any blistering or prolonged swelling but is unlikely to significantly reduce the pain experienced.

Should I Get Qualified Medical Help?

Maybe – “If In Doubt Shout”! Never be afraid to call 999 or 112 (both work exactly the same) if you have a genuine concern.

First Aid For a Severe Insect Sting Reaction

Signs & Symptoms Of Severe Reactions

  1. Fear – anxiety
  2. Faintness or loss of consciousness
  3. Fatigue – feeling tired
  4. Confusion
  5. Nausea or vomiting
  6. Difficulty breathing or complete cessation of breathing
  7. Wheezing
  8. Swelling of the tongue, face and neck
  9. Congested – red appearance to the face
  10. Rapid pulse
  11. Hives and a severe raised red rash, spreading across the body

Emergency Actions To Take Next:

  1. Make yourself safe, with a physical barrier or a good distance between you and the bees or wasps.
  2. Keep the casualty calm, reassured and above all still, reducing the systemic spread of venom.
  3. Call 999 or 112 immediately and follow their advice.
  4. Assist a conscious casualty in taking their EPI PEN if they have one.
  5. Remove the sting or stings still in place as quickly as possible.
  6. If the casualty becomes unconscious, place them in the recovery position.
  7. If the casualty is unresponsive and not breathing normally begin CPR.
  8. Wait for qualified help to arrive.

Contact NHS Direct, your GP or visit your local walk-in centre.

If symptoms persist for more than 24 hours or you feel they are getting worse. Remember some people have delayed

reactions that might include, fever, swollen glands, and joint pain

Oral and or topical cream and spray based antihistamines may help and always read the label.

First Aid & Treatment Advice On Stings

Insect stings in the UK are common thanks to a healthy number of insect species, all with the ability to sting, like Wasps, Bees, Ants and Hornets.

This means that they inject venom into you via a stinger which is a modified egg-laying (ovipositor) tube, through the skin directly into your soft tissues and bloodstream.

Venom attacks the body in different ways depending on its composition.

The danger with venom is that everyone reacts to wasps stings and bee stings differently.

Most people experience localised pain and swelling so remain unaware of how dangerous stings can be.

Anaphylactic Shock From Insect Stings

In some people, a single sting could cause a life-threatening, systemic reaction called Anaphylactic Shock. Complications can quickly escalate, causing death in under four minutes.

Of course, we have medication that can help, but paramedics are not always just around the corner.

Mobile phones don’t always work when we are out in the countryside, so it pays to understand a little first aid.

What Insects Sting You?

The Main culprits are wasps and bees, but it must be stressed, hymenopteran insects will generally only use their stinger in defence or in the acquisition of prey.

When you encounter these insects, remember they are sensitive to movement, meaning the slower you move and the quieter you are, the less likely you are to get stung.

If you have the chance to escape, ensure you run in a straight line to increase your distance as fast as possible.

Limitations of the above advice.

Notice: We are not medical professionals, nor does the material on this page seek to supersede or subordinate qualified medical advice to the contrary.

We only seek to raise awareness of possible treatment pathways that might lead to the recovery and safety of a potential casualty.

If any information within this page requires revision to better reflect existing medical best practice.

We are always open to making necessary alterations and greatly appreciate any advice medical professionals may consider prudent to share with us and our audience.