There is no doubt about it that one of the most hated things about bees and wasps and what leads us humans to dislike them so much is their defensive sting. At best stings can be uncomfortable and unpleasant while at worst they can be life threatening and (especially in the case of multiple stings) fatal. In this article, we consider stings from these insects.
The difference between the two.
As we have learnt during these series of blog posts, there are differences between bees and wasps and their stings are no exception.
Bee stings tend to be acidic in nature, so are best treated with an alkali to counter it. E.g. Bicarbonate of soda. Wasp stings tend to be alkali and tend to be neutralised by an acid. E.g. Vinegar.
It’s important to get these distinctions clear in your mind as the last thing you want to do is remedy with the wrong substance and make the pain worse! There has been plenty of research done on this and to what extent the above may help is questionable, although sometimes even a placebo effect can help.
Wasp and bee stings generally result in two situations: a severe and non-severe allergic reaction.
Thankfully most of us who get stung fall into the latter category and so whilst unpleasant strings are nothing more than a discomfort.
When bees sting (rather than wasps) they leave their stinger inside the skin, so it is important to remove this carefully to avoid more sting being injected. Scrapping a credit card over the wound is a popular way of doing this if some experts are to be believed.
Next the wound should be cleaned with soap (ouch! – if possible) and water to remove trace of any sting. Ice and Ice packs can then be applied to the area frequently to control the swelling and provide a sense of relief and soothing comfort.
Thirdly, consider a range of light medication and pain relief options to help you and to help the wound. Antiseptic / bite creams are very useful for ‘treating’ these kinds of wounds to reduce the chance of it becoming infected. Remember that bees and wasps are not known to transmit diseases in the same way that mosquitos are, so you can rest easy on this. Antihistamines are useful to stop swelling and redness occurring at the local site. They may also help with itching. Tablets such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can aid pain relief and comfortableness also.
Generally speaking this, along with letting the power and time of healing to work its magic, are enough to allow many people to manage stings. Most will go away and heal up on their own.
For some people, stings are far more dangerous and quick action is needed. Some people can be sensitive to sting venom and this causes their body to become overly reactive to it. The result is something known as anaphylaxis (essentially ‘severe allergic reaction.’) leading to anaphylactic shock.
If someone is known to be allergic and gets stung, then they need careful monitoring, especially in the first hour. Symptoms of danger to look out for in these type of people include but are not limited to: shortness of breath, swelling – especially in the face area, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, nausea, and other symptoms which are not normally present. If you believe someone is suffering from anaphylactic shock, dial the emergency services immediately and follow advice.
Despite an estimated one tenth of the population being allergic to stings, most are thankfully aware of this and have injector pens to counteract the effects of a sting (similar to how a diabetic does with sugar.)
In case of pest emergency make a note and visit our dedicated page for help and assistance.