Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bee and Wasp Sting - What to do

Bee and Wasp Sting - What to do

What to do when bitten by a bee and/or a wasp - First aid treatment

Insect stings overview

Bee and wasp stings are common causes of medical problems. Bees and wasps, together with fire ants, are all related insects that belong to the Hymenoptera order. Bee and wasp stings can cause significant reactions, ranging from localized pain and swelling to serious and even potentially fatal conditions. At least 40 deaths occur each year in the U.S. as a result of bee or wasp stings.

What are the types of wasps?

There are over 25,000 species of wasps found throughout the world. Some of the most common wasps include:

The yellow jacket and hornet, both of which live in groups, or colonies, in temperate climates.

Yellow jackets, which have black and yellow stripes on the abdomen, form underground nests.

Hornets are predominantly black with some yellow markings on the head and thorax. Hornets form paper-like nests that are attached to trees, bushes, or buildings.

What are the types of bees?

Bees include the honey bee, the so-called Africanized honey bee (also known as "killer bee"), and the bumble bee. Bumble bees are large, furry-appearing bees that fulfill the beneficial role of pollinating many plants. Honeybees, also active plant pollinators, are found all over the world. While honey bees are not usually aggressive, they will sting if bothered or threatened. Because their wings flap so rapidly, their presence is associated with a buzzing sound. Although the venom of the "killer bees" found in the Western and Southern U.S. is no more potent than that of regular honeybees, their behavior may be more aggressive. Killer bees may chase victims when agitated and may also attack in greater numbers, thereby increasing the chances of a severe reaction to their stings. Overall, there are more than 20,000 species of bees found worldwide.

Bee and Wasp Stings Causes

Bees and wasps inject venom by stinging unlucky people. Sometimes-especially with bees-the stinger may be left in the skin. The venom is poisonous and may cause direct injury to the human body. This injury is usually confined to the areas close to the sting or stings.

Allergic reaction: The vast majority of serious medical problems and deaths result from an allergic reaction. This happens in certain people whose immune systems are overly sensitive (or allergic) to the venom. When they get stung, their body may overreact to the venom, and an allergic reaction may happen throughout their body. These people are frequently described as being allergic to specific insect stings.

In the U.S., about 40 deaths are reported each year from insect venom anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction). These fatal allergic reactions frequently, but not always, occur in people who have had a previous allergic reaction to the same type of insect.

Although multiple stings increase the potential danger in allergic cases, a serious or even fatal allergic reaction can (and does) occur from a single sting in a person with no known prior allergic reaction.

The vast majority of serious and fatal allergic reactions from stings cause a significant and obvious allergic reaction within an hour of being stung. Most deaths from stings occur within the first hour. Immediate emergency medical care is critical in known or suspected allergic reactions after an insect sting. In rare cases, serious or even fatal allergic reactions may not happen for up to four or more hours after an insect sting.

Other complications of stings: Insect stings in nonallergic people, though perhaps painful, usually do not cause serious problems. However, multiple stings may cause serious complications (such as muscle breakdown or kidney failure) and, rarely, even death in nonallergic people.

Especially at increased risk are small children, elderly people, and people who are already weak. These serious problems may occur within the first few hours of being stung or may be delayed for days after being stung.

Even a single sting in the mouth or throat can cause swelling and obstruction of the airway. Children are at increased risk for these types of breathing problems from a sting.

A bacterial skin infection at the sting site may also develop.

More: Monster Wasp Insect Found

What’s the difference between a wasp sting and a bee sting?

The venom in a wasp sting is alkali. If you don’t know what “alkaline” or “alkali” means, you can get the basic gist of it all by taking a look at this diagram of the pH Scale. Basically, one end of the pH scale is alkaline and the other end is acidic. To treat a wasp sting, you need to neutralize the alkaline sting by applying something that is acidic. The most obvious acidic household product is vinegar. Therefore, should you get a wasp sting, pouring vinegar over the affected area is a good way to go about relieving the pain. Lemon juice and other acidic household products will also do the trick. Be careful when looking for something that is acidic, as you don’t want to use anything that is too acidic, as it might burn your skin.

On the other hand, a bee sting is acidic and therefore on the opposite end of the pH Scale. This means that in order to neutralize the sting, you will need something that is on the alkaline side of the pH Scale. Alkaline products include tooth paste and bicarbonate of soda. Should you get stung by a bee, applying tooth paste to the affected area will help neutralize the sting.

In short; how do I treat a wasp sting?
By applying vinegar to the affected area.

In short; how do I treat a bee sting?
By applying tooth paste to the affected area.

What are the symptoms of a bee or wasp sting?

Insect stings may produce four types of reactions, each with characteristic symptoms as below:

Local reactions are the most common type of reaction to a bee or wasp sting. Symptoms include pain, swelling, warmth, and redness at the site of the sting. Itching may also be present. These symptoms begin immediately following the sting and often last for only a few hours. Depending upon the type of insect, the stinging apparatus may still be visible in the affected skin. Large local reactions have a greater degree of swelling that can last for up to a week, sometimes associated with nausea and/or tiredness. These reactions are not allergic reactions.

Systemic (body-wide) allergic reactions occur in people who have produced a type of antibody known as IgE antibody against the same insect venom as a result of a previous sting. Systemic allergic reactions are estimated to occur in 0.3% to 3% of stings. Symptoms include hives and flushing of the skin and difficulty breathing due to swelling of the pharynx and epiglottis and narrowing of the bronchial passages. The reaction may vary in severity from mild skin hives to life-threatening reactions. The most severe immunologic reactions are known as anaphylaxis and occur more commonly in males and in people under 20 years of age. In severe reactions, hypotension (low blood pressure), circulatory disturbances, and breathing difficulty can progress to fatal cardiorespiratory arrest. Most people who develop anaphylactic reactions have experienced previous stings with few problems. Once an individual has experienced an anaphylactic reaction, the risk of having a recurrent episode is about 60%.

Toxic reactions are a direct result of toxins in the venom rather than the body's immune response. Most often these are due to multiple simultaneous stings that introduce an unusually large amount of venom into the body. Symptoms can include fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fainting or dizziness, and convulsions. Hives, rash, and skin symptoms are less common in toxic reactions than in allergic reactions. Because bee and wasp venom are strong stimulants of the immune response, people who have experienced toxic reactions may produce antibodies to the venom and be at risk for future systemic anaphylactic reactions to stings.

Delayed reactions are uncommon and occur even days to weeks after the sting. These reactions constitute less than 0.3% of all reactions to insect stings. The individual's own medical history and condition may play a role in determining whether delayed reactions occur. Symptoms can vary widely and may include inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), the nerves (neuritis), blood vessels (vasculitis), or kidneys (nephritis) as well as blood clotting disturbances. Serum sickness is a type of delayed reaction that occurs a week to 10 days after a sting and may cause itching, rash, fever, joint pain, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.

Exams and Tests of Wasp and Bee Stings

Emergency department evaluation will likely first include checking the vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate, and temperature). The doctor will then focus on examining you for evidence of breathing or airway difficulties, shock, and widespread rash.

A history, including current medications, underlying medical problems, and previous allergic reactions, will be obtained.

Your physical examination and vital signs will largely determine what treatment is given. Blood work, x-rays, and other tests are rarely needed.

When should I call a doctor about a bee or wasp sting?

Most bee and wasp stings can be treated at home, but some cases require medical attention. If there is any suspicion at all that a person is having a systemic allergic reaction, seek immediate emergency medical assistance. Signs that a person may be having a systemic reaction include widespread hives or rash, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and swelling in the mouth and throat areas. If a person is stung by an insect whose sting has previously caused an anaphylactic reaction, he or she should also access emergency medical care even if no symptoms are present.

You should also seek medical care if any of the following conditions are present:

If you have received multiple stings

If the sting is located in the eye or eye area

If symptoms of infection (pus, drainage, fever, increasing pain and redness) develop

If the initial symptoms worsen or persist for longer than 24-48 hours

If a sting produces severe symptoms in young children, the elderly, or those with chronic medical problems

Self-Care at Home for Bee and Wasp Stings

Most simple insect stings in a nonallergic person require no more than first aid at home.

Avoid further stings by wearing protective clothing, using insect repellant, and avoiding infested areas.

Remove any stingers remaining in the skin (most likely from bees) immediately. Some experts recommend scraping out the stinger with a credit card. However, it is probably more important to get the stinger out as quickly as possible than to be overly concerned about how it is removed.

Application of ice to the sting site may provide some mild relief. Ice may be applied for 20 minutes once every hour as needed. Cloth should be placed between the ice and skin to avoid freezing the skin.

Consider taking an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for itching.

Consider taking ibuprofen (Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief as needed.

Wash the sting site with soap and water. Place an antibiotic ointment on the sting site.

If it has been more than 10 years since your last tetanus booster immunization, get a booster within the next few days.

Most insect stings require no additional medical care. More serious reactions may need immediate medical care.

If you have been stung by a bee or wasp and have previously had a serious allergic reaction, seek medical attention. Consider taking an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) as soon as possible. If any allergic symptoms develop, consider using the epinephrine part of an emergency allergy kit (EpiPen) if previously prescribed by a doctor.

How to Prevent Bee and Wasp Sting

YellowJacket Trap for Bees and Wasp

  • Catches multiple species. Attractant lasts for weeks without daily maintenance Won't trap beneficial honeybees
  • Double-chambered design prevents yellowjackets from escaping Durable plastic holds up in sunlight for seasons of use
  • Used and recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture as well as major U.S. zoos, parks, campgrounds, resorts and school districts
  • Clear plastic tube allows the user to see the yellowjacket "body count"
  • Once inside the trap, the yellowjackets cannot fly out and die of dehydration.

  • Kills Wasps & Hornets safely
  • Cost Effective
  • No chemicals or poisons & Reuseable
  • 6 traps for one low price
  • Makes a great gift!


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