How to Tell If You Have a Wasp Bite or Sting

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Wasp stings may leave your skin with redness and swelling.
Wasp stings may leave your skin with redness and swelling. (Image: Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Wasps generally do not attack unless provoked, or when defending their nest. The wasp uses the stinger as an egg-laying device so only females sting their victims, according to the University of California. Most people have general symptoms after a wasp sting, but a small percentage may have anaphylaxis, which may result in death from the bee venom if not treated promptly. Learn to recognize wasp stings from other insect bites to know the proper treatment for your skin irritation.

Things You'll Need

  • Butter knife or credit card
  • Wash cloth
  • Soap
  • Towel
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Ice pack

Examine the affected area of your skin for a tiny puncture wound. The tiny hole represents the sting mark. If you notice the stinger left in your skin, remove by scraping it from the skin with a butter knife or credit card.

Observe the area for redness and swelling. The skin around the puncture wound may have a small hump where the area is swollen, while the skin turns a dark red. The area may feel warm or hot to the touch.

Check for pain or itching at the sting site. The wasp leaves behind venom that your skin reacts to with localized itching and soreness.

Wash the area immediately with soap and water. Rinse the skin with cool water and pat dry with a clean towel. Cover the area with an antibiotic ointment and use an ice pack on the affected area to reduce swelling and ease the pain.

Tips & Warnings

  • Call your doctor or visit your local urgent care facility if you experience chest pain, hives, nausea or shortness of breath as you may have anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction to bee stings.
  • Avoid using tweezers or fingernails to remove a stinger as squeezing it may deliver additional venom into your skin.

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