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Bee and Wasp Stings (cont.)

Bee and Wasp Sting Prevention

Some, but not all, stings can be prevented. It is especially important that people known to be allergic to certain insects make an effort to avoid those insects.

Ways to avoid stings include the following:

  • Avoid known areas of concentration such as hives and nests.
  • Do not molest hives and nests.
  • Take care with motorized equipment such as lawnmowers, because they may provoke the insects.
  • If flying insects are around, leave the area and refrain from swatting at them.
  • Avoid activities outdoors with sugary drinks, brightly colored clothing, and strong fragrances or perfumes because some insects may be attracted to them.
  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts because they may also provide some protection.
  • Keep outdoor dining and camping areas clean and free from garbage.

If you have had a previous significant allergic reaction to a sting, it is very important that you have readily available (and know when and how to use) a self-administered injectable epinephrine emergency sting kit, such as an EpiPen.

  • Proper use of these kits may literally be life-saving until emergency help can be reached.
  • It is important that a proper kit be readily available. Multiple kits may be needed to have one at home, at work, in a purse, and in your car.
  • If you are allergic to bee or wasp stings, talk about these kits with your doctor.

If you have had a prior significant allergic reaction to a sting, talk to your doctor about seeing an allergy specialist. Immunotherapy, a series of shots of low-dose sting venom, may reduce the risk of future severe allergic reactions from similar stings from about 60% to about 5%.

If you have had a prior significant allergic reaction to a sting, consider wearing a Medic Alert bracelet and carrying an emergency medical allergy card in your wallet or purse.

Bee and Wasp Stings Outlook

  • In most cases involving only one or a few stings, the prognosis is excellent if only local symptoms occur. Pain and itching may last a day or so.
  • Cases involving many stings may occasionally cause delayed and long-term complications. Although these complications may occur despite appropriate medical care, early medical care may lessen the severity.
  • Serious skin infections are uncommon after a sting.
  • People suffering a mild allergic reaction are likely to do well if emergency medical care is sought quickly.
  • People who suffer a severe allergic reaction to a sting require immediate emergency medical care to lessen the chance of serious illness or even death. Any delay in emergency medical care greatly increases the risk to a person having a severe allergic reaction. In some allergic people, severe disability or even death may still occur despite appropriate medical care.

For More Information on Bee and Wasp Stings

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
555 East Wells Street, Suite 1100
Milwaukee, WI 53202-3823
(800) 822-2762

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
6610 Rockledge Drive, MSC 6612
Bethesda, MD 20892-6612

Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine


"Bee, yellow jacket, wasp, and other Hymenoptera stings: Reaction types and acute management"

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2017
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