Yellow jackets, a type of wasp, are also a part of the hornet family Vespidae. To date, there are approximately 12 known species in Alberta Canada, while there are 17 in North America as a whole. Like any other hornets and wasps, a yellow jacket’s sting is potentially fatal. Knowing how to treat yellow jacket stings can come in handy, especially when you are located where these kinds of insects are prevalent.
Yellow jackets are usually very active during summer and fall. As their name implies, they are known for their yellow with black stripes appearance. However, they may also be black and white in color. What separate yellow jackets from bees and other kinds of wasps are their clear-cut waist and their lengthwise wings. They are considered a nuisance, as they can be extremely aggressive. They will sting even when unprovoked. Unlike bees, they can sting you multiple times.
Some of the initial symptoms to expect from a yellow jacket sting are redness, swelling, itching and pain in the area. In some cases, severe allergic reactions may occur, resulting in difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing and tightness in the throat. This may be very dangerous as it can lead to an anaphylactic shock.
These are some tips for treating a yellow jacket sting:
Check for the presence of a stinger. If you notice one, you must act very fast. Find anything that has a thin, straight edge, such as a laminate ID or credit card. Immediately scrape off the stinger. In some cases, you can pull the stinger out by using tweezers or just your fingers. Note that you shouldn’t squeeze the venom sac at the end of it. It will just force more venom into your system.
If you don’t find a stinger or if you have already gotten rid of it, it is time to clean the area where you were stung. This will ensure that you remove all the bacteria present on the wound surfaces. Using clean water and a non-scented soap, clean all your wounds.
You will notice that the wounds will become red and somewhat swollen. To decrease the swelling, apply a cold compress on the wounds. You can use an ice pack or just wrap a piece of ice in a clean cloth. Leave it there for approximately 10 minutes. Repeat the process until some of the swelling subsides. This will also help alleviate the pain.
To deal with the itchiness, apply an over-the-counter sting swab. If you don’t have that, you can make a baking soda paste. Add water to baking soda until it becomes pasty and apply it to the affected areas. Epsom salts, ammonia and meat tenderizers are also known to contain certain enzymes that helps neutralize the sting.
Medicate as needed. If you think that the itchiness needs more reinforcements, you can take oral antihistamines, such as Benadryl, Zyrtec and Claritin. Acetaminophen (Tylenol or Vicodine) or aspirin can also ease the pain.
In severe cases, you should take the patient to the nearest hospital. If you have proper medication such as an Epi-Pen, that may yield faster results. This is very serious as an allergic reaction can close your airways, preventing you from breathing. Severe allergic reactions may show up 10 to 20 minutes after being stung. However, delayed reactions can appear up to 20 hours later.
Preventing yellow jacket stings can be difficult, especially if they are common in your area. You can still try by wearing light colored shirts with long sleeves. Try to stay away from places where they appear, such as gardens and near sweet scented foods.
By learning how to treat yellow jacket stings, you can avoid further complications.