How To Treat Bee / Wasp Stings - Summer First Aid

As the warmer weather of summer approaches the likeliness of being stung by a bee or wasp will increase. I’m sure you just like us, will be out in the garden having BBQs, laying on the beach or going for long walks through the hills … unfortunately, these are all places that bees and wasps love to spend the summer as well.

In most cases wasp and bee stings are not serious, resulting in a small swollen lump that will be red, itchy and slightly painful for a few days. These people will experience a mild allergic reaction where an area of skin will become swollen and this is not anything to worry about as long as it reduces within a few days.

Treating Someone Who Is Not Allergic To Bee/Wasp Stings:

  1. If the sting is visible, gently scrape it off the skin using a bank/credit card or similar object.

  2. Elevate the injury if possible and apply a cold compress such as a flannel soaked in cold water or an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel for at least 10mins.

  3. Seek medical advice/help if the pain or swelling persists.

  4. If the sting is in the mouth, give an ice cube to suck on (if appropriate), or sips of cold water.

  5. Watch and observe the casualty for a more serious allergic reaction

Life Threatening Anaphylaxis

For more serious allergic reactions which could be extremely dangerous (Anaphylaxis), the body’s immune system will have massively over-reacted.  In an anaphylactic reaction, the body’s immune cells release massive amounts of a chemical called histamine. This causes a rash and itching, but can also include life-threatening Airway, Breathing and/or Circulation (ABC) problems.

Airway - Swelling of the tongue, lips or throat; a hoarse voice.         

Breathing – Difficult wheezy breathing, (similar to an asthma attack)

Circulation – Pale, cold, clammy, dizziness, feeling faint

The person may only have ONE of the ABC life-threatening problems, but at the same time, they could have all THREE!

Treating Someone with Life-threatening Anaphylaxis To Bee/Wasp Stings:

  1. Dial 999/112 for emergency help

  2. If breathing is not impaired, lay the casualty down and raise the legs.

  3. Check to see if the person is carrying an auto-injector of Adrenaline such as an EpiPen, and assist them to use this.

  4. The auto-injector of adrenaline could save their life if given quickly, follow our guide on using an EpiPen by watching the video below. 

  5. If the casualty becomes unconscious – check Airway and Breathing and start Basic Life Support if necessary. 

Important Things To Remember:

  • Do not scratch the sting site as this will cause more irritation.

  • The longer a bee’s stinger is allowed to remain in the body, the more

  • severe the reaction 

  • If you are stung in your mouth or near your eyes, seek immediate medical treatment. 

  • Bees release a scent when in danger that will attract other bees, try to move aware from the area that you have been stung in.

How Can You Reduce The Chance Of Being Stung?

  • When meeting wasps, hornets or bees stay calm and move away slowly. Do not wave your arms or try swatting them as this can agitate them and make them feel threatened. 

  • Apply insect repellent to exposed areas of the skin.

  • When having picnics or hiking through the landscape, try to avoid areas where there is stagnant water, rubbish or compost. These areas are popular for wasps, bees and hornets to be lurking.


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