Hornet Sting: Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention

hornet sting

Hornets, like wasps and bees, have a stinger, which they generally use to keep their foes away from them. Apart from this, they also use it to kill their prey. The stinger contains venom, which gets transferred to the body of the stung person and intoxicates the surrounding area and, sometimes, blood.

Hornet stings are usually more common in the season of summer, as during this time, the activity of these insects increases quite much. Therefore, if a person stays outside for a long time or gets too much closer to a hornet nest, they might get stung by them. However, most of the time, the venom does not lead to any complication, and the affected people recover quite quickly.

Nevertheless, the experience of getting stung by a hornet or a yellow jacket sting can be quite painful and irritating. Also, if you are allergic to the venom, then some critical complications might also occur to you. Therefore, if you have been stung by any member of the wasp family, especially the hornets then, make sure to get some treatment as soon as possible.

Symptoms of a Hornet Sting

If you do not have any allergies regarding the venom, then you will only experience some minor signs and symptoms. However, if you are allergic to it, then severe complications might arise, which would require prompt medical treatment. So, make sure to know about all the signs and symptoms of hornet sting to understand more clearly about your condition.

1. Mild Local Symptoms and Reactions

A hornet or a bee or a wasp sting can be recognized by a laceration or a small puncture wound on the skin. Along with this, you will also experience a feeling of intense pain in the area where you have got stung. Here are some of the other symptoms that you might see on the affected area of your skin.

  • Instant pain and a sensation of burning where the bee has stung
  • A red and swollen area, which is both itchy and painful
  • Red, inflamed hives that last more than a week

Sometimes, the area where the hornet has stung can get infected and discharge pus. If this happens in your case, then make sure to visit your doctor as soon as possible and get some immediate treatment.

2. Moderate to Severe Local Reactions

If you have not treated the affected area for more than a week, then the following symptoms might also occur.

  • Extreme swelling and redness to the affected area, which can last for more than two weeks
  • If you have got stung for multiple times, then you might also experience a feeling of nausea or severe headache
  • If the hornet has stung on your legs or elbows, then excruciating joint pain, too, can occur after some days

Among the adults, multiple stings are known to be quite hazardous and can cause some issues of concern. However, amongst the children, they can be quite fatal. So, if your child has gotten stung by a hornet, then make sure to take him or her to a doctor as soon as possible.

3. Anaphylaxis

If you are allergic to the venom of the hornets, then you might experience the severe symptoms of a condition called Anaphylaxis. Here is what you should know about it.

  • You are having a sudden feeling of dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Persistent stomach cramps
  • A feeling of nausea
  • Breathing difficulties, such as gasping or wheezing
  • Sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea
  • Itchy skin even where the hornet has not stung
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If this condition is left untreated, then the patient might also lose his or her consciousness. In severe cases, an anaphylactic shock might also occur to the stung person, which can be quite life-threatening and fatal. So, if you have a history of Anaphylaxis, then make sure to carry a hornet sting kit whenever you go out during the season of summer. This kit comes with a shot of epinephrine hormone, which helps in relaxing the extreme symptoms of the allergic reaction.

Complications of Hornet Sting

Other than Anaphylaxis, a hornet sting can lead to numerous other health complications. Here are some of them.

1. Blood Clots

If the venom enters your body and mixes with your blood, then it can also cause the abrupt clotting of blood. This situation might lead to some other health issues.

2. Muscle Weakness

If the hornet has stung on the muscles of your hand or legs, then you might feel severe pain in those areas. If you do not treat this condition as soon as possible, then muscle weakness, too, can occur.

3. Motor Aphasia

Motor aphasia is a medical term, which refers to the inability to speak and write. In the cases of hornet sting, this situation usually occurs when the venom gets mixed with your blood and affects the neurons of your brain.

So, these are some of the extreme complications that might occur if you have been stung by a hornet and have allergic reactions to its venom.


If you do not have any allergic issues to the venom of the hornet, then your symptoms would go away within two weeks on its own. However, if you want to do something about the pain and irritation, then here are some methods that can help you with it.

1. Mild Reactions

In cases of mild to moderate reactions, you can opt for the following home remedies.

  • Wash the Area: After you have got stung, make sure to come to your home as early as possible and clear the affected area thoroughly with cold water. It will help you in removing a lot of the venom. If the stinger is present on your skin, then make sure to remove it as gently as possible.
  • Apply Ice: Once you are done removing the stinger and washing the area properly, then you can also apply an ice pack on it. It will help to reduce the severity of the pain and the irritating burning sensation.
  • Cover with a Piece of Cloth or a Bandage: If the pain in the stung area has subdued even a little bit, then promptly covered it with a piece of cloth. This can prevent bacteria and viruses from infecting the area and help you to get recovered quickly.
  • Opt for Vinegar: Vinegar is yet another home remedy that is known to be excellent for the hornet sting. The acidity of vinegar can help in neutralizing the alkaline properties of wasp stings, which can ultimately reduce your pain.
  • Use Lotions: If you want to reduce the severity of pain, then you can also apply lotions and creams on it. You may also use colloidal oatmeal and baking soda on the affected area to decrease the irritation of your skin.
  • Garlic: Garlic is yet another thing that can help you to get rid of the excruciating pain. For using it, you should, first, have to crush the garlic with something heavy and apply the paste on the wound.

Severe reactions

If you are allergic to the venom of hornet sting, then the previously mentioned methods would not work for you. For that, you would have to opt for some other remedies. Here are some of them.

  1. Use a Shot of Epinephrine: If you are experiencing the symptoms of Anaphylaxis, then make sure to take a shot of epinephrine hormone. It will help in relaxing your muscles and make you feel a lot more stable.
  2. CPR: If someone’s breathing has stopped temporarily due to the severity of the allergy, then you can use CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on him or her.
  3. Opt for Medications: If CPR has worked for the person and he has started breathing normally, then you can also give him some steroids or some other medications to improve his condition.
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Anaphylaxis is known to be an extreme medical condition, which, if left untreated, can lead to fatal conditions. Therefore, if you, or someone you know, is experiencing the symptoms of this condition, then make sure to go to a doctor as soon as possible.

Ways to Protect Yourself from Getting Stung by a Hornet

There are numerous ways that can help you to protect yourself from hornet sting. The following are some of them.

  1. Wear Light-colored Dresses

The lighter colors, such as yellow or white, are generally known to cause confusion among the insects. Therefore, if you stay near a place where the hornets have built a nest, then make sure always to wear light-colored clothes whenever you are going out.

1. Maintain Personal Hygiene

Highly odorous smells can anger the hornets and the bees. Therefore, whenever you are going out, make sure to wear fresh and clean clothes. Apart from this, you would also have to maintain personal hygiene properly, as the smell of sweat can irritate the hornets.

2. Cover Food Containers

The smell of foods is known to attract hornets. Therefore, if you have any freshly cooked delicacies in your home, then make sure to cover them in the proper manner. Besides this, you would also need to clear out trash cans if you do not want the manifestation of hornets in your house.

3. Do Not Use Fragrances

The scent of the fragrances, toiletries, and cosmetics are quite aromatic, which is why they can attract the attention of the hornets. Therefore, if you live in an area where the hornets have made a nest, make sure to avoid using these items as much as possible.

4. Use Hornet Repellent Products

Aside from protecting yourself from the hornets in various ways, you can also opt for clearing them out from their nest. For that, you can use the hornet repellent products, which you can get from the market. However, when you are going to use them on the hornet nest, make sure to wear heavy clothes to avoid getting stung by the hornets.

5. Avoid Wearing Open-toed Shoes

When going to a hornet-infested area, you should always try to avoid wearing open-toed shoes. It will lower your chances of getting stung by a hornet sting by a mile.

6. Stay Away from the Fruit Trees

Whether it is a hornet or a bee, almost all the members of the wasp family generally make their nests in the fruit trees. Therefore, if you want to protect yourself from the hornets, then make sure to stay away from the fruit trees, especially during the season of summer.

Questions That Might Arise in Your Mind about Hornet Sting

1. How long does the pain of the sting can last?

It usually depends on the location of where the hornet has stung you. If it has pricked on your muscles, then the pain would remain for at least one to two weeks. However, if the hornet has nipped in one of your boney areas, such as elbow and knee, then the pain would usually take more than three weeks to go away.

2. What is the best remedy to reduce the pain of hornet stings?

To reduce the pain, you can apply vinegar directly on your wounds. Due to its acidic nature, it can counter the alkaline attributes of the sting venom, and therefore, can reduce the severity of pain.

3. How much intoxicating is hornet venom?

Usually, the venom of the hornets does not inflict much harm to humans other than causing pain and swelling in the affected area. However, if you are allergic to this venom, then you might experience the symptoms of Anaphylaxis, which can cause severe problematic issues.

4. How should a person draw out the stinger from his or her skin?

If the stinger has remained in your skin, then, to make your condition better, you would have to take it out. You can remove it by scraping your fingernails over it and pulling up gently. Besides your nails, you can also gauze for taking it out. However, make sure not to use the stingers.

5. Is wasp sting infection serious?

If you are allergic to it, then, yes, it can be quite dangerous for you.

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