A good first aid class should cover the basic things that can cause anaphylactic shock, which a wasp bite or sting can cause.
Anaphylactic shock is when the body overreacts to a protein that it comes in contact with or gets inhaled, ingested or injected, which is the case with wasp stings.
Anaphylaxis will affect multiple organs involving the whole body rather than just the area where the sting occurred. When the lungs or throat are affected breathing can be restricted to the point of respiratory arrest.
Death from anaphylactic shock is a real possibility for those who are allergic to the stings of insects such as wasps, hornets or bees. Most people with such severe allergies carry what is known as an Epi-pen which is a dose of epinephrine that can be easily administered by anyone who reads the instructions on the injector.
Unlike a bee which has a barbed stinger and can usually only sting once since the stinger gets stuck in the victim, a wasp can sting multiple times in multiple places.
A wasp sting is not technically worse. It only can produce a certain amount of venom which is usually less than that of a bee. A bee’s stinger is left behind by the bee with venom sacs still attached that will pump out all of the volumes of venom into the area of the sting.
Treating a wasp sting can be conditional depending on where the sting occurred, how many times a person was stung, how many wasps were stinging the person and if the person begins to show symptoms of anaphylactic shock.
A single sting to the hand is different than a sting inside the mouth which usually results from a person drinking from a bottle or can that was left uncovered while outdoors.
If there is any indication of breathing restriction, stand ready to administer artificial respirations for the victim while en route to the nearest emergency medical facility.
Wasps can get underneath clothing and continue to sting a victim who may be unconscious. Assess even a conscious victim to find where the stings occurred.
For a solitary sting that does not produce a major allergic response leading to dangerous anaphylactic shock, there is not a whole lot that can be done do minimize the pain of the sting.
Cleaning the area with soap and water to reduce the risk of secondary infection is a good idea. Cool water, in this case, will be better than hot water followed by treatment with an ice pack to minimize swelling.
Apply an ice pack to the area of the sting for 15 to 20 minutes each hour until the swelling is controlled.
Apply an antibiotic spray, cream or ointment to the site of the sting to help minimize secondary infection. If the victim has safely taken the over-the-counter antihistamine diphenhydramine, then it should be considered to help reduce itching at the sting site.
Over-the-counter pain medications that the victim has safely taken in the past should be considered to reduce the level of pain suffered from a wasp sting.
As emphasized in a good first aid class, anaphylactic shock is life-threatening. Symptoms usually occur within the first hour after the sting.
If the victim is having difficulty breathing, develops a rash or hives, has a large area of swelling at the sting site, has swelling beginning to occur anywhere else such as in the throat, or is experiencing a diminished level of consciousness emergency medical treatment should be sought immediately.
Any sting to the eye, throat or anywhere inside the mouth should be evaluated by medical personnel. Multiple stings should also be evaluated.
Even a person who has never shown any signs of being allergic to stings in the past may now have an allergy due to being stung prior. It is a good idea to immediately head toward an emergency medical facility when anyone is stung by a wasp.
It is better to be closer to a facility with advanced life support capability while carrying out the basic first aid procedure just in case anaphylaxis begins especially in that first hour after the sting.