An insect stings when it is agitated or to defend itself. Common stinging insects in the UK include wasps, bees and hornets. In most cases, insect stings usually cause a small local skin reaction which can last up to a few days. In some cases, allergic reaction may take place. Allergic reactions can be classified into localized and systemic allergic reaction, of which the latter is rare but serious.
A sting contains venom which will cause skin to become swollen, itchy and leave a red mark. The affected area may be painful. Unlike wasps and hornets, a bee sting will leave a venomous sac in the wound which needs to be removed by scraping it out using something with a hard edge, such as a card. Pinching the sting with fingers may spread the venom. Plucking a sting squeezes venom into the skin. Instead, scrape it off.
Rarely, some people may experience serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) which requires immediate medical attention. Anaphylaxis is more likely if you have been bitten or stung before and become sensitized. Symptoms include wheezing, nausea, swollen face or mouth, anxiety and a fast heart rate.
A skin reaction is present in most insect sting cases.
An allergic reaction, most common in wasp stings, requires the sensitisation of your immune system so you are unlikely to experience this kind of reaction after a first sting.
Wasps and hornets could sting you again as they don’t leave the sting behind. Therefore, walk away calmly after the first sting to avoid further stings.
As most insect stings are small reactions localised to that area, they can be treated at home by washing with soap and water. Cold compress can be used to reduce swelling. It is important to keep in mind that scratching the area will cause infection. Painkillers like paracetamol can be taken in painful cases to help relieve the discomfort. Antihistamine can also be used to reduce swelling in the affected part. If symptom persists, your GP may prescribe oral corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory medicine) for a few days. If you suspect an allergic reaction, call an ambulance immediately.
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Doctify Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.