This article describes the effects of a wasp sting.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage a sting. If you or someone you are with is stung, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
Wasp venom is poisonous. It is injected into you when you are stung.
Wasps carry this venom. Some people are allergic to the venom and have a serious reaction if they are stung. Most people do not need emergency medical treatment if they are stung.
Below are symptoms of a wasp sting in different parts of the body.
EYES, EARS, NOSE, AND THROAT
STOMACH AND INTESTINES
HEART AND BLOOD VESSELS
Note: The symptoms marked with an asterisk (*) are from an allergic reaction to the venom, not from the venom itself.
For severe reactions:
Call 911 if the person has an allergic reaction (severe swelling or difficulty breathing). You may need to go to the hospital if the reaction is severe.
If you have an allergy to bee, wasp, hornet or yellow jacket stings, always carry a bee sting kit and know how to use it. These kits require a prescription. They contain a medicine called epinephrine, which you should take right away if you get a bee sting.
To treat the wasp sting:
Have this information ready:
Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If an emergency room visit is necessary, the health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated. The person may also receive:
How well a person does depends on how allergic they are to the insect sting and how quickly they receive treatment. The faster they get medical help, the better the chance for recovery. The chances of future total body reactions increase when local reactions become increasingly severe.
Symptoms in people who do not have a sting allergy are likely to go away completely within a week.
DO NOT stick your hands or feet in nests or hives or other preferred hiding places. Avoid wearing bright colored clothing and perfumes or other fragrances if you will be in an area where wasps are known to congregate.
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.