Wasp sting - first aid and emergency measures


A wasp sting is when a wasp with its sting penetrates into the skin of a person and injects their venom into it (injected). This usually happens as part of a defensive response of the insect, either in direct threat to the wasp (for example, when you step on it) or when the wasp's nest is threatened. Unlike bees, wasps have no barbs on the sting and can stab several times without the spike getting stuck in the skin. The human body normally reacts with a local reaction in the form of pain and later itching, swelling and redness. Normally, the pain is tolerable in a wasp sting and after a short time already subsides. Swelling and itching usually persist for a few days. In rare cases, there can be a significant allergic (anaphylactic) reaction that can lead to life-threatening conditions. Even in the non-allergic should be acted quickly in stings in the mouth and throat, or in the neck, and a clinic to be visited, since it can come to respiratory distress by the addition of the respiratory tract.


Normally, therapy with a wasp sting is not necessary. In the acute situation can be tried to remove the wasp venom with a Saugstempel or by expressions. It should absolutely be avoided to suck the poison with his mouth! Also, the puncture should be examined roughly. Normally, there is no sting left in the skin. Should a spike get stuck, it should be removed carefully with tweezers, then the puncture site should be disinfected with a suitable wound disinfectant. When pulling out, care should be taken, as poison contained in the sting may be pressed into the skin during removal. In case of great uncertainty, the family doctor can be visited. The site of the puncture should then be cooled with ice. Further therapy is not necessary. However, it is possible to apply an ointment that helps to prevent insect bites - such as Fenistil ® . There are also special spike healers available in the pharmacy that can destroy the constituents of the poison by local heating, but they are only effective when applied directly after the sting has taken place. Furthermore, there are many home remedies that can bring relief. Scratching the stitch should be avoided even with itching.

When should you see a doctor?

Visiting a doctor is usually not necessary after a wasp sting. If signs of an acute allergic reaction show, however, an emergency doctor should be contacted immediately. Even if the injection site swells excessively (greater than 10 cm in diameter) or after more than five days no improvement has occurred, a doctor should be consulted. As already mentioned, even with great uncertainty as far as withdrawal is concerned, a family doctor can be visited.
If the puncture site is infected and, for example, pus forms at the puncture, a doctor should also be consulted in order to assess the infection in more detail. Normally, a wasp sting is not dangerous. Only over one hundred stitches at a time it is life-threatening for the non-allergic.


First, the point of the wasp sting should be cooled for a few minutes. The sooner the better. Even later, cooling can help against the itching. In addition, one hears that heat (for example in the form of a hot spoon) helps to destroy the poison - this is true in principle, but it is generally discouraged, since either either the heat is not large enough, or burns can occur. Following the same principle, anti-static pens from the pharmacy follow. These can be used until shortly after the sting and prevent a lengthy course. Other home remedies help especially by an anti-inflammatory effect. So onion slices can be placed on the sting, or the sting can be carefully dabbed with honey or vinegar. These two can be helpful against the itching. If the contact with any of these substances burns, it should be avoided and rinsed thoroughly with clear, cool water. Even plants and herbs from the garden can be helpful - so the laying of lavender flowers, but also of ribwort leaves, daisy blossoms or sage leaves can help. However, these should only be used if there is no open spot at the puncture to avoid contamination and infection of the wound.


There are several homeopathic ways to treat a normal wasp sting and relieve symptoms. However, if there are signs of an allergic reaction, the ambulance should be alerted. In general, Globuli Apis mellifica C30 are considered as the first choice for insect bites (especially wasps, bees and hornets). It is recommended to take three Apis C30 globules as soon as possible after the sting, additional treatment such as cooling and various home remedies can further relieve the discomfort. In particular, the swelling may be reduced by the globules. As an alternative to internal use, the globules can also be dissolved in boiled water and blotted onto the stitch.

What can you do about the pain?

A wasp sting often hurts a lot during the first few minutes after the sting. Normally, however, the pain subsides after three to eight minutes. In general, the injection site should still be cooled, since the cold not only helps against the swelling, but also acts as a natural painkiller. Later in the course, the sting is often characterized by itching rather than pain. Here, an antihistaminic ointment or a gel such as Fenistil ® can be applied. Also here can still be used a cooling or one of the home remedies listed above. A painkiller is usually not necessary, but if the pain is not gone after hours, for example, ibuprofen can be taken in small doses (a 200mg tablet in adolescents and adults).

Sting is still there - what to do?

As a rule, the sting does not get stuck in a wasp sting, as wasps, in contrast to bees, have no barbs on the sting and can even stab several times. Nevertheless, the puncture should always be thoroughly examined. If the sting is still in the skin it can be removed carefully with tweezers. Subsequently, the site should be disinfected with a suitable wound or skin disinfectant to prevent infection. In some cases there may still be poison in the sting, which can be pushed out of the sting into the skin at a careless distance. This is particularly unfavorable for allergy sufferers, which is why a family doctor can be consulted for this. If the sting is so deep in the skin that it can not be removed with tweezers, it is also possible to visit the family doctor, who can remove the sting more easily with the right instruments and disinfected conditions.


Until a wasp sting is completely healed, it usually takes between five and seven days, but sometimes there are no symptoms before. In the first few minutes after the sting usually severe pain is felt, but quickly subside (after about three to eight minutes). At the same time, swelling begins to develop with redness, warming and itching. For allergic persons, this swelling can sometimes be very large. After two to three days, the greatest extent is reached and the symptoms begin to disappear again. After five to seven days, wasp stings are cured at the latest.

Wasp sting allergy

A wasp sting allergy belongs to type I allergic reactions, which means that it is an immediate-type allergy. An allergic reaction to a wasp sting occurs within a few minutes to a few hours (maximum five to six hours) after the puncture, but usually still during the first hour after the puncture.

An allergic person must have been sensitized before the allergic reaction, that is, they must have been in contact with wasp venom before, or simply, only from the second stitch on in life does the allergic reaction occur.

In this case, antibodies ( immunoglobulins ) of type E (also called IgE) are released. These IgE bind to mast cells (a cell type of the immune system that is free in the blood and tissues) and activate them so that they release messengers ( cytokines ) such as histamine and granzyme. These messenger substances cause the allergic symptoms.

While swelling, redness, overheating, and at the beginning pain, and then itching are common symptoms, on the one hand, they may be pronounced in a mild allergy or, in the case of a stronger allergy, may be accompanied by other symptoms. The accompanying symptoms of wasp venom allergy include skin rash throughout the body, nausea, vomiting and headache, pressure on the chest and respiratory distress, and palpitations, hypotension, fainting, unconsciousness and even anaphylactic shock. There may also be only one of the mentioned symptoms.

If signs of an allergic reaction appear, a hospital should be consulted immediately or an emergency doctor should be contacted (Tel .: 112). With the help of a skin test (intracutaneous test) it can already be found under controlled conditions if an allergy exists.

Also, a hyposensitization (habituation as therapy, so that the allergy is overcome) can be performed. This usually happens in the hospital, in order to be able to ensure the optimal supply in case of unforeseen consequences.

Also, there are emergency kits for well-known allergic persons that contain medications to prevent an acute reaction. Even if an emergency kit has been used successfully, the emergency doctor should be contacted afterwards.

Allergy sufferers also have to be much more likely to suffer late effects from a wasp sting than people without allergies. Find out about the late effects here : wasp sting - with these late effects one should count.

Accompanying symptoms

A wasp sting is usually immediately noticeable by severe pain, but after a few minutes (three to eight minutes) subside. It forms in the course of a red wheal of a few centimeters in diameter. Redness, swelling and overheating of the wasp sting area should be noted. This reaction persists for a few days and the wheal may become larger in size up to three days after the sting, measuring ten or more centimeters in diameter - especially in mild allergies. Mostly the wheal remains smaller. Symptoms persist after five to seven days. Symptoms such as rash all over the body with itching, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or dyspnea should be reported to a clinic as it is an allergic condition. Anaphylactic) reaction could act.


The swelling is normally only in the area of ​​the wasp sting and occurs after only a few minutes. Mostly it has a diameter of about one to three centimeters. In the course of the swelling can also grow. On the second to third day after the puncture, however, she has often reached the maximum size. Here it can easily assume a diameter of more than ten centimeters for mild allergic reactions. Such an expression should be clarified by the doctor. In most cases the pressure swelling is sensitive to pain, but it does not hurt all the time in the hours and days after the bite, it just itches. The swelling is usually also warm and red.

Inflammation and blood poisoning

A wasp sting naturally triggers a local inflammatory response. However, as a rule, this is sterile, ie it is not attacked by bacteria, but triggered by the immune system. It is regarded as a normal reaction and is indispensable for healing. Symptoms include swelling, redness, overheating, and pain, especially when pressure is applied to the sting site. In rare cases, the puncture site may additionally become infected. In this case, then by contamination or a stuck spiked bacteria, in the small caused by the wasp sting wound advised. As a rule, the body is coping with this, but pus sometimes forms. In this case, the family doctor should take a look at the sting to release the pus and decide whether a therapy with an antibiotic ointment or with antibiotics in the form of tablets is necessary.
In some cases, it can also lead to blood poisoning. It must be distinguished from the blood poisoning in the vernacular - the red strip, the lymphangitis - and the blood poisoning from a medical point of view - the so-called sepsis. When a red streak occurs, it is a natural process that is a reaction of the lymphatics, which, among other things, are responsible for transporting cells of the immune system. It shows a painful red streak, which spreads from the puncture site in the direction of the trunk and heart. In rare cases it can also lead to fever and a general malaise. It is here, if this occurs after an insect bite, not an acute emergency, anyway, the family doctor should be visited. In addition, you can mark how far the red line on the skin has spread at a certain time in order to be able to assess the course better.
In medical jargon one means with blood poisoning the clinical picture of the sepsis (also SIRS in the context of an inflammation: Systematic Inflammatory Response Syndrome - mostly however sepsis). Sepsis is when bacteria, usually from a local source of inflammation, such as an infected wasp sting, enter the bloodstream, where they can multiply well and trigger a generalized (systemic) inflammatory response, while starting in all sorts of different organs increase. Typical for a sepsis are the sudden onset of high fever with chills and a marked malaise, as well as fatigue and fatigue. This is an absolute and life-threatening emergency. Immediately visit the nearest hospital or call an ambulance (112)! Sepsis must always be treated with antibiotics that are administered intravenously (ie into the vein, via infusion).

emergency kit

An emergency kit for allergy sufferers (anaphylactic) is extremely important, especially for allergies of the immediate type, such as the wasp venom allergy. The kit usually includes three medications and should only be used by people who have been briefed. All in all, the set is straightforward and easy to use by laymen. Unfortunately, the emergency kit does not bypass the call for the emergency physician (Tel.:112), but bridges the time until the ambulance arrives. In Germany, there are generally three drugs in an emergency kit. In the first place is an adrenaline pre-filled syringe (adrenaline auto-injector / adrenaline pen). The adrenaline is added directly to the bloodstream and stabilizes the blood pressure and circulation so that the patient is not in shock (unstable circulation) or becomes unconscious. The pen is gripped with the dominant hand, the safety cap is removed, and then the end is pressed with the needle firmly on the outside of the thigh. The injection is automatic and a click indicates that it was successful. After about ten to fifteen more seconds, the injector should be removed and the injection site should be massaged for ten to fifteen seconds to ensure optimal absorption of the drug. If a second pen is included in the set, it can be used after five to fifteen minutes, provided that no improvement in the symptoms has occurred.
Furthermore, the emergency kit contains an antihistamine, usually as drops or as an orodispersible tablet, and cortisone, also usually as drops. Both should be taken after administration of adrenaline penis. Antihistamines have a decongestant effect, leaving the airways clear and reducing allergic reactions.

For children, there are special emergency kits in which the medicines have the appropriately adjusted dosages. Already school children can handle the emergency kits well after a briefing, but it is generally advisable to instruct teachers or educators on excursions as well.

Causes of a sting

Wasps sting in acute threat of their own life or the nest. For example, wasp stinging is typically done in barefoot on a meadow when stepping on a wasp, or when hitting a wasp with the palm of your hand. Even in the summer, when many wasps are on the road and are attracted by sweet food and drinks, the animals may feel threatened by the proximity to humans and may stumble. You should not go near a wasp nest without special equipment, as the wasps have a strong instinct to defend the nest.

Cause of the body's reaction

Wasp venom contains various enzymes. These are proteins that allow chemical reactions to be optimized (catalyzed) - for example, the cleavage of specific molecules. In particular, hyaluronidase (splits hyaluronic acid - an essential component of the space between the cells) and various phospholipases (splits so-called phospholipids, which are, inter alia, part of cell membranes) play an important role in the reaction. On the one hand, the substances contained in the venom cause local destruction of tissue and, on the other hand, after a few seconds to minutes, a reaction of the immune system and thus a slight, physiological inflammatory reaction. The body locally increases the temperature and blood flow to create an optimal working environment for the immune cells. We perceive this as redness, warmth and swelling. The itching also comes about through the substances in the poison, as well as the reaction of the immune system. Even hours or days after the wasp sting, the spot can still be sensitive. This is mainly due to an increased sensitivity of the nerve fibers in the area of ​​the stitch - a normal reaction of the body, which should tell us that you should better protect the injured region. In a wasp sting allergy, the affected person's immune system reacts excessively. This can be in the form of a local reaction (very large wheal or swelling), a general reaction with nausea, headache or full body rash, or respiratory distress and life-threatening allergic (anaphylactic) shock. This is caused by cells that mistakenly classify the actually innocuous sting as extremely dangerous and release too many messengers (such as histamine). It comes to a drop in blood pressure and a narrowing of the respiratory tract and thus to an undersupply of the brain (and other organs) with oxygen. Lighter manifestations show generalized eruptions with itching as well as symptoms such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting.


Normally, the diagnosis of a wasp sting does not pose any great problems, since the culprit can be seen escaping from the site of the puncture. If this is not the case, at the site of the puncture one sees only a small whitish spot, sometimes with a red (bleeding) point in the middle. A sting is usually not found, this would be typical for a bee sting, as bees have barbs, which is why the sting gets stuck in the skin. Wasp spikes have no barbs, which is why wasps can stab several times. In the next few minutes, a reddish wheal develops around the puncture. Wasp bites usually hurt very much initially, but the pain often goes by itself after a few minutes (three to eight minutes) and instead an unpleasant itching is felt.

Wasp sting under the foot

Wasp stings on the sole of the foot are quite common, as the animals fight back when they step on them barefoot, for example in a meadow. They can be very disturbing. Generally, however, they are no different to treat and no more dangerous than wasp stings on other body parts such as legs or arms. First, it should be cooled. Afterwards each affected person must decide for himself whether he or she is able to walk on the affected foot. Most of the time, however, the body reacts quickly and after two hours at the latest, you can go back without any major complaints. Nevertheless, excessive walking or running should be avoided until it is completely free of complaints.

Insect Bites and Stings | Insect Bites Treatment | How to Treat Insect Bites and Stings | 2018 (February 2020).

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