Search this site.

Wasp Sting First Aid

I hope that you will never need this wasp sting first aid information! Being stung by a wasp or bee is no fun!


Bee and wasp stings are intended to hurt - and they do! The insect is defending itself or its nest in the only way it can.

For most of us...

Stings are easily dealt with.

Most wasp and bee stings range from mildly annoying to very painful.

Wasp sting first aid involves merely soothing the pain and preventing infection.

For those are allergic...

Stings can be more serious. They can range from mildly annoying to (very rarely) fatal.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction


  • redness and swelling over a large area (say, from the wrist to the elbow)
  • intense itching and pain


  • respiratory distress (difficulty breathing)
  • sweating
  • hives
  • intense itching and pain
  • nausea
  • faintness
  • shock 

Have you ever had an allergic reaction to a wasp or bee sting?

Go and tell your doctor about it right now!

Your doctor will have specific instructions for wasp sting first aid.

He or she may recommend that you carry an Epipen - or even that you have venom desensitizing injections every month during wasp and bee season.

Your doctor will also be able to reassure you that the chances of having an life-threatening reaction are slim.

Wasp Sting First Aid

You can take some simple precautions to reduce the chance of getting stung, but if worse comes to worst and you do get a sting, here's what to do.

If you know that you are allergic

Don't panic.

Even if you have had a previous allergic reaction, there is a good chance (about 45%) that your reaction this time will be less severe than last time - especially if the last one happened a long time ago.

Follow your doctor's instructions.

Your doctor will have told you what to do. Follow those directions and use your Epipen right away - even if you have no immediate symptoms.

Seek medical attention immediately.

Even if you feel fine, go and get checked out.

If you have an allergic reaction for the first time

Stay calm.

An allergic reaction can be scary. You may be tempted to panic. Don't!

The vast majority of people who have an allergy will not have an anaphylactic reaction.

Seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Even if your symptoms are mild, get to an emergency room or clinic right away.

Everyone else

Put ice on the sting.

Putting an ice pack or cold pack on the area will help to reduce pain and swelling.

cool gel pack

Check for a stinger.

Wasps do not leave their stingers behind, so if you are positive it was a wasp and not a bee, you can skip this step.

If you are stung by a bee, the stinger may still be in the wound.

Remove it by scraping gently with a fingernail or credit card. Don't use tweezers, which can force more poison into the wound.

Wash the area around the sting.

Use soap and water. This is a tiny open wound, after all!

Cover it with a bandage.

You want to keep the wound clean to prevent infection.

two bandaids

Watch for signs of an allergic reaction.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, seek medical attention at once.

Use distraction.

Some wasp or bee stings can really hurt!

Focusing on the pain will only make it feel worse. Do something that requires your attention.

Consider using "Sting Kill" swabs.

This product contains Benzocaine, and promises "fast temporary relief of pain and itching due to bee stings, insect bites and jellyfish". I haven't tried it myself, but it gets very enthusiastic reviews on Amazon.

You can read about it here, and decide if this is something you want to try.

Use pain medication as necessary.

If the pain continues to be severe, you may choose to use ibuprofen.

If pain continues for more than 24 hours, seek medical attention.

Neutralizing the venom.

You may have read that you should dilute and neutralize the venom to decrease your body's reaction.

Wasp venom is alkaline.

According to this wasp sting first aid theory, bathing a wasp sting wound with lemon juice or vinegar should be helpful.

bottle of vinegar

Bee venom is acidic.

Bathing a bee sting with a paste of baking soda and water, they say, will neutralize it.

baking soda in a bowl

Does it work?

I haven't been able to find any scientific evidence to support these folk remedies.

When you think about it, they don't really make sense.

Once the venom has been injected under the skin and has spread through the tissues, pouring a liquid over the surface of the wound is not going to neutralize anything.

However, many people swear by this method - and it even appears in some respected first aid manuals!

Perhaps it works - or perhaps just having something to do distracts you from the pain and makes you think that it works. Either way, it can't hurt!

Home remedies for wasp and bee stings

wasp sting first aid home remedies

Any of these items applied to the sting is said to be soothing.

  • aloe vera gel
  • cucumber
  • deodorant
  • mint leaves
  • mud
  • oil of lavender
  • olive oil
  • onion
  • potato
  • toothpaste

Once again, I haven't found any evidence that any of them works - but once again, they can't hurt!

Perhaps it is just the gentle pressure as the remedy is rubbed on the skin that does the trick.

An important element of wasp sting first aid is distracting the patients from their fear and pain. Even if they do nothing else, home remedies can be effective distractors.

What about multiple stings?

What if you are unlucky enough to step on a nest of wasps or bees?
Even if you are not allergic to bee and wasp stings, multiple stings can cause "toxin load".

Symptoms of toxin load

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • nausea

These symptoms may appear anytime in the first 24 hours following the stings.

They are not a sign of an allergic reaction and are not an emergency in themselves.

First aid for toxin load

Take it easy.

Sit down. Rest. You've had a shock!

Stay hydrated.

Drink lots of water.

Stay cool.

Sit in the shade - but don't allow yourself to get cold.

Take pain relievers if necessary.

Be alert for signs of an allergic reaction.

If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, get medical attention immediately.

Now that you know about wasp sting first aid, click here to learn more about camping safety.

Are you planning a camping trip? Please visit The Camping Family home page for lots of helpful tips and ideas.

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.


Most popular

Camping Lists

Food Ideas

Screen Tents

Tin Foil Dinners

Planning your Trip

Sign up for my camping newsletter!

Recipes, tips and more!

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you The Camping Family Bulletin.

Join our Facebook Community!

We talk about camping every day. Please join us!