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Bee and Wasp Stings (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care for Bee and Wasp Stings

Although most stings can be treated at home, some will require more medical care.

  • Call your doctor or go to a hospital's emergency department if a large localized reaction (greater than about 10 inches in diameter) occurs, evidence of infection (increasing pain, swelling, redness, drainage of pus or fever) is present at the sting site, or any symptoms last for more than a day or two.
  • If it has been more than 10 years since your last tetanus booster immunization, contact your doctor about getting a tetanus immunization.

Although most stings do not require medical care, remember some stings can be serious or even fatal. If you have the slightest suspicion that someone is having a generalized or allergic reaction, seek emergency medical care immediately. In many areas dialing 911 for an ambulance may be your best option. (Try to avoid driving yourself to the hospital if you believe you are suffering from an allergic reaction-you may lose consciousness and have an accident.)

Go to a hospital's emergency department immediately if someone is showing evidence of an allergic reaction. Remember, an allergic reaction may occur in people with no prior history of allergic reactions. Any of the following may indicate an allergic reaction:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Swelling in the mouth or throat
  • Rash all over the body
  • Faintness or decreased level of consciousness
  • If more than 10-20 stings have occurred, especially with wasp stings or in children, elderly people, or people with underlying medical problems
  • If the sting involves the inside of the mouth or throat, especially if in children and/or involves more than one sting
  • If the sting involves the eyeball itself
  • If a person has been stung by an insect species that has previously caused an allergic reaction in the person-even if there is no evidence of a current allergic reaction (The safe thing to do is to head for an emergency department in case the person suddenly develops an allergic reaction.)
  • If a large localized reaction (redness greater than about 10 inches across) or evidence of infection (increasing pain, swelling, redness, drainage of pus or fever) is present at the sting site or sites and you cannot contact your personal doctor promptly
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2017
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