Almost everyone sometime in their life has been stung by an insect. These insects inject venom into the skin tissue when they sting. That leads to an unpleasant pain, redness, and swelling at the site of sting. The damage and discomfort can last from several hours to a day or two, depending on the type of insect and the number of insect bites.
Only few percent of population may have allergic or hypersensitive reaction to insect stings. Identifying the insect provides a clue to treatment. It also helps you to avoid more stings.
Hornets are type of wasps belonging to hymenoptera family, which also includes bees and ants. Hornets are social insects. They live in colonies and form hives around human dwellings, tree trunks and dark places. Wasps such as hornets are equipped with a stringer and its purpose is self defense. They do not sting unless they are provoked.
The stringer contains venom which the hornet transmits while stinging. Hornet stings are more common during the warmer months. Unlike bees, hornets can sting several times.
Symptoms After A Hornet Sting
Stings of hornet are poisonous. However the venom released is too little to cause dangerous problems in humans, except for the short term distressing symptoms.
Hornet sting is much more painful than other wasps because the poison present in it is acetylcholine. It is a chemical known to propagate pain signal to human brain. There is severe burning pain soon after hornet sting. The pain is limited to localized area of sting.
Swelling and welt are common after a person is stung by hornet. It can be a large swelling occupying the surrounding space of sting. The swelling can become red and hot. A tiny white dot can be seen in the swollen area of the sting. The swelling can increase in size for one or two days as a part of local reaction.
In rare instances a person may have hypersensitive reaction to hornet sting. It is a severe form of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The anaphylaxis allergic symptoms are too quick in response to the venom injected in the body. The symptoms are generalized and they do not remain limited to the site of sting.
There is instant swelling of lips, face and under the eyelids. In severe cases the throat can be swollen and patient finds difficult to breathe and swallow. The blood pressure falls and patient feels giddy. Nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps are other serious manifestations of anaphylactic shock caused due to hornet sting.
Since it is an emergency, people having past history of anaphylaxis should carry medications which can be given instantly to prevent life threatening problems.
Home Remedies To Treat Swelling From Hornet Sting
Soon after a hornet sting, the first thing that needs to be done is to watch for stinger. Though most of the time hornet does not leave a stringer, in some cases a small portion of stringer still remains. If the stringer is visible, try to remove the stringer.
- Do not remove the stringer with tweezers; it may instill the remaining venom present in it inside the body due to pressure applied while removing it. Take your credit card or a flat portion of knife. Slowly slide the flat part on the skin near the stringer. It will make the stringer to come out.
- The next thing to do is to apply ice over the area. Take few cube of ice in a clean cloth and apply it over the affected area. It helps to reduce pain as well as swelling.
- Apply topical antihistamine ointment. You can even take over the counter oral antihistamine to relieve pain and itching.
- Use vinegar to neutralize the effect of hornet venom. Soak cotton ball with vinegar. Ensure that the stringer is soaked with vinegar for 10 to 15 minutes to neutralize the venom inside.
- Make a paste of baking soda by mixing small amount of water. Apply it over the area. Leave the paste for at least 10 minutes. It helps to reduce swelling and itching.
- If there is previous history of anaphylaxis, seek medical help immediately.
Burning pain from hornet sting may remain for a day; however the swelling, redness and itching may persist for another few days or a week. Avoid scratching as it will increase itching and there is risk of infection too. Seek medical help if the swelling remains for more than a week.