Bee, Wasp and Jelly fish stings – how to help

jellyfish in the sea water

Being stung is unpleasant and most of the time is no more than painful. However stings can cause a serious allergic reaction and it is vital to know how to recognise this and what you need to do.

Bee and wasp stings:

Bee stings – if someone is stung by a bee and the sting remains in the skin, quickly flick it out using your thumb nail or a credit card. Don’t be tempted to squeeze the sting as this can increase the amount of allergen entering the body and can increase any possible allergic reaction. Wasps and other stinging insects do not leave the sting behind in the wound. Common old wives remedies are to try and put acid or alkali onto a sting – This will not help. Although wasp stings are alkali and bee sting venom is acidic – this alone does not cause the pain and reaction and so trying to neutralise them will not help.

If the area that has been stung starts to go red and swell, apply a wrapped ice pack to the area to quickly help to reduce the inflamation. Piriton (chlorphenramine antihistamine) will quickly reduce a minor reaction, but this can only be given to a child with prior parental permission.

If the casualty shows any signs of a systemic reaction or of anaphylactic shock, call an ambulance immediately and if they have an Adrenaline Auto-injector, you should use it.

Adrenaline Autoinjectors - Epipen

Reassuring them and positioning them appropriately can make a major difference to their treatment: If they are short of breath, they should be encouraged to sit, in an upright position to help their breathing, putting something under their knees to help increase their circulation can be very helpful – into the lazy W position.

If the casualty has no difficulty breathing, but is pale, cold, clammy, feeling sick and thirsty – they should lie down with their legs raised to help increase the circulation to their vital organs. They should stay lying down even if they appear to recover, as sitting or standing them up could be dangerous. Encourage them to turn their head to one side if they are likely to vomit. They should be covered to keep them warm and kept in this position until the paramedics arrive.

Jelly fish stings – what to do:

  • Reassure the casualty and sit them down
  • If there are any tentacles remaining, remove with tweezers – get a medical professional to do this if you are unsure
  • If the casualty shows any signs of breathing problems, or acute allergic reaction or anaphylaxis – phone an ambulance immediately
  • Soak the affected area in vinegar (or urine!) for 15-30 minutes, this will help to neutralise the alkali from the sting and ease the symptoms.
  • NOTE – with stings from a Portuguese Man of War (these are not jellyfish but are often mistaken for them) – do not immerse in vinegar (or urine) as this will make the pain worse

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

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