Ouch! If you’ve been stung by a bee or a wasp, don’t worry – it’s quite common. Even if they can be very painful, they’re not particularly serious and go away on their own. However, sometimes, things can get complicated and serious illness can develop. That’s why in this post, we’ll go into what the difference is between a wasp sting vs bee sting and what symptoms you can expect. Then, we’ll discuss the best treatment methods for stings.
Wasp Sting vs Bee Sting
There are a few important differences between the stingers of bees and wasps. Both bees and wasps have a small sac containing venom attached to a stinger. However, the honeybee has a barbed, ridged stinger, whereas wasps and many other types of bees have smooth stingers. Crucially, honeybees can only sting once, as the barbed stinger sticks inside the puncture wound on the skin, and the honey bee flies off without it. Wasps and many bees, on the other hand, can sting a person multiple times.
A sharp pain accompanies a sting, and the puncture site experiences swelling and inflammation due to the venom. The pain and burning, though, only last a few seconds. Later, the area around the puncture wound will swell, but the swelling will subside in a few hours. This is known as a normal local reaction and is what most people experience.
However, some people may experience more dramatic symptoms, with increased swelling and redness peaking at 48-72 hours after the sting and taking up to one week to subside. They may even experience nausea or vomiting. This suggests that the person is experiencing a large local reaction and is potentially allergic to the sting. Even so, symptoms will subside after about a week.
Finally, it is also possible for a sting to cause your body to go into a state of shock. This is anaphylaxis and can happen within a few seconds after a sting in people highly allergic to the venom of wasps or bees. Symptoms include severe swelling of the face, difficulty breathing, and lightheadedness. It’s important to know that anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and requires prompt attention.
Conclusion: Treating Wasp vs Bee Stings
The priority is to ensure that the individual stung is not experiencing anaphylactic shock, which requires immediate emergency treatment. If professional medical assistance is inaccessible, an epinephrine injection can help stabilize their condition and return heart rate and respiration to normal. Epinephrine autoinjectors are commonly available, and it’s important for people with allergies to stings to keep them on their person.
However, for mild or moderate reactions, treatment is relatively straightforward. Washing the area thoroughly with soap and water will help remove the venom, after which a cold compress can help reduce swelling and ease the pain.
Over-the-counter pain relievers like Ibuprofen can alleviate pain further, and antihistamines such as diphenhydramine can help with itching. Just like with any other puncture wound, it’s best to keep the area clean and dry as it heals.
This post is brought to you by Care Dermatology. We’re proud to offer the best dermatology in Florida. Our experts are always here to help you with all of your skin concerns. If you have any questions, please call one of our offices, and we’ll be happy to help.