Bee and Wasp Sting (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Insect stings overview
- What are the types of wasps?
- What are the types of bees?
- What are causes of bee and wasp stings?
- What are the symptoms of a bee or wasp sting?
- When should I call a doctor about a bee or wasp sting?
- How is a bee or wasp sting diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a bee or wasp sting?
- What are the complications of a bee or wasp sting?
- How can I prevent a bee or wasp sting?
- Bee and Wasp Sting At A Glance
What is the treatment for a bee or wasp sting?
Treatment for a mild allergic reaction
- First aid for a bee sting involves cleansing the site, immediate removal
of the stinging apparatus (if present), and application of ice or cold packs
to the affected area.
- Antihistamines such as
diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may be taken to relieve itching and burning.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or
ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) may be taken for pain
- If the sting site becomes infected, your doctor may prescribe a course
- If it has been more than 10 years since your last tetanus booster immunization, get a booster within the next few days.
Treatment for a mild allergic reaction (such as a rash without any breathing difficulty) usually involves the administration of antihistamine medications and sometimes steroid medications to reduce inflammation.
Treatment for anaphylactic reaction
The treatment of choice for life-threatening anaphylactic reactions is epinephrine. Emergency medical treatments may also include steroid and antihistamine medications and insertion of a breathing tube. Intravenous fluids and medications to support cardiovascular function may also be required. Treatment may be begun at the scene by emergency medical personnel and continued in the hospital.
Doctors can prescribe an allergy kit containing self-administered epinephrine (Epi-Pen) for persons at risk for a severe allergic reaction, including those with known allergy to bee or wasp stings. These self-administered injectable epinephrine treatments can be life-saving in many cases. It is important to have kits readily available at home, in the car, at work, etc. and to know how to use them properly.
Immunotherapy is sometimes recommended for those with a history of severe allergic reactions to stings. In this treatment, a series of shots ("allergy shots") are used to provide low-dose exposure to venom. This type of treatment may significantly reduce the chance of future severe allergic reactions.
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