What to do in case of wasp or bee stings?

Bee and wasp stings are a common outdoor nuisance. In most cases, these types of stings will only require home treatment to ease the pain. But if youre allergic to bee and wasp stings or you get stung numerous times, you may have a more serious reaction that requires emergency treatment.

Bee and wasp stings can produce different reactions, ranging from a mild pain and discomfort to a severe allergic reaction. Having one type of reaction doesnt mean youll always have the same reaction every time youre stung.

(1) Mild reaction: Symptoms are minor and include: instant, sharp burning pain at the sting site; a red welt at the sting area; a white spot where the stinger punctured the skin; slight swelling around the sting area.

(2) Moderate reaction: Some people who get stung by a bee or other insect have a bit stronger reaction, with signs and symptoms such as: extreme redness, swelling at the site of the sting that gradually enlarges over the next day or two. Moderate reactions tend to resolve over five to 10 days.

(3) Severe allergic reaction: A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to bee stings is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. A small percentage of people who are stung by a bee or other insect quickly develop anaphylaxis. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include: skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin; difficulty breathing; swelling of the throat and tongue; a weak, rapid pulse; nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; dizziness or fainting; loss of consciousness. People who have a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting have a 30 to 60 percent chance of anaphylaxis the next time theyre stung. Prevention measures such as immunotherapy to avoid a similar reaction in case you get stung again should be undertaken together with their doctors.

In most cases, bee stings dont require a visit to your doctor. Severe cases will need immediate care from a healthcare provider. First aid for a bee sting involves cleansing the site, immediate removal of the stinging apparatus (if present), and application of ice or cold packs to the affected area....