Font Size

Bee and Wasp Stings (cont.)

Exams and Tests for Bee and Wasp 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.

Bee and Wasp Stings Treatment

Treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. It is important to note that no specific antivenom is available to counteract the poison injected by the insect. The majority of problems requiring medical treatment result from the allergic reaction to the sting. Many of the complications from an allergic reaction respond well to various medications-when given in time.

Home Remedies 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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2017
Medical Author:

Must Read Articles Related to Bee and Wasp Stings

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Bee and Wasp Stings:

Bee And Wasp Sting - Self-Care

What self-care did you use on your bee and/or wasp sting?

Bee and Wasp Sting - Describe Your Experience

Please describe your experience with Bee and Wasp Sting.

Bee and Wasp Sting - Treatments

What treatment or treatments did you use for you bee and/or wasp sting?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Bee and Hymenoptera Stings »

Hymenoptera stings account for more deaths in the United States than any other envenomation.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary