What Does a Wasp Sting Look Like?

What Does a Wasp Sting Look Like?

A wasp sting normally presents with a raised welt around the site of the sting. It can be very painful and irritating, and it can even cause severe allergic reactions in some people. While these stings are frustrating, most people’s reactions will go away within a few hours. 


There are lots of different kinds of wasps out there, and depending on where you live, you may or may not be near species likely to sting humans. Some wasps are social while others live independently, and it’s the social wasps that are usually more hazardous to people. 

Here’s a quick rundown of the most common wasps in the United States and their relative stinging risk:

While some species are less likely to sting than others, that doesn’t mean that they can’t sting. Any wasp can sting when handled or disturbed, which is why you should try your best to leave them to their own devices whenever you can. Since wasps pose not only a stinging risk but also a risk of severe allergic reactions, calling in our professional team of experts to address an infestation or nest of wasps is the best way to keep yourself and your family safer. 


The primary way to know that a wasp has stung you is to see the wasp around you and to feel pain in the area where you’ve been stung. You may also have some swelling and redness around the area that was stung. 

As the venom spreads, you may notice heat and itching at the site of the sting. Hives may also occur if you’re allergic or have a reaction to the venom. 

Swelling and redness beyond the sting site are normal with wasp stings. That means that you’re likely to see a large, noticeable welt after being stung. 

Even if you’re not allergic to wasps, you should monitor swelling and seek emergency help if the sting causes an allergic reaction or affects the eyes, nose, mouth, or throat. 


No two people are the same, so no two stings are going to present the same way on people’s bodies. That being said, wasp stings generally cause a localized reaction that causes pain and discomfort.

The typical reaction to a wasp sting can look pretty scary if you haven’t seen one before. The reaction will likely start out with pain and irritation at the site of the sting. It will become red, and there may be a small welt. That welt may quickly grow in size. 

Over time, the venom from the sting will spread. It’s possible that the swelling could become severe, although the swelling will usually remain localized. 

As an example, if you’re stung on your hand, there is a potential that your entire hand could swell up. If you’re stung on the forearm, your entire forearm could swell. Stung on the forehead? Well, that might swell up pretty badly as well. 

While this kind of reaction is normal, it’s appropriate to seek medical attention if this is the first time you’ve been stung or if you were stung in an area where swelling could put your life at risk, like your throat or mouth. 

The swelling usually goes down within two to three days. Your medical provider may prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids to help minimize discomfort. You may also want to try cool compresses or anti-inflammatory medications to soothe the swelling and pain associated with a sting.


With a normal reaction, the reaction from a wasp sting usually lasts between two and three days. However, the length of time the reaction lasts will depend on whether you have a normal local reaction or a large local reaction. If you’re allergic, the reaction could be more severe and last longer, as well.

For normal local reactions, you usually have a raised welt around the site of the sting. The swelling and irritation may start to subside within a couple of hours. 

Large local reactions can take up to a week or so to resolve. The reaction may not be life-threatening, but it can cause significant swelling and redness. Some people will feel ill and have nausea or vomiting. 

For those with allergies, a severe allergic reaction can lead to a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. It is necessary to seek emergency care if anaphylaxis occurs. 

Anaphylactic reactions can take many days to resolve because they have different patterns they can take. Uniphasic reactions may go away within an hour or so and not come back, while biphasic responses can go away initially but return again later. Protracted anaphylaxis is the most serious (and rare) condition during which the condition persists for days without resolving.

Since there is no way to know if symptoms will return a few hours after treatment, those with anaphylactic reactions have to be monitored in a hospital and should carry epinephrine with them at all times.  


Ouch! Now that you’ve been stung by a wasp, it’s time to take action to minimize the pain and discomfort you’ll feel in the days to come.

Your first priority is to make sure you’re in a protected place away from the stinging wasp. Once you’re out of range or the insect has gone away, you can take steps to help yourself heal. 

There are simple treatment methods you can use if you’ve been stung by a wasp. If you’re allergic to wasp stings, make sure you follow your medical treatment plan, which may include taking an antihistamine, using epinephrine, and calling 911 for emergency care. 

For those without allergies, the treatment process is a little simpler. 

  1. Start by washing the area to cleanse away venom and bacteria. While washing the area won’t get rid of all of the venom, it will help get rid of some. 
  2. Apply cold to the area. Use ice, cold water, or any other cold object you have to chill the wound. Apply cold for up to an hour, making sure to take 10 minutes off for every 10 minutes the ice or cold object is applied to help protect your skin. 
  3. Take an antihistamine. Even if you’re not allergic to wasp stings, your body may have a reaction to it. An antihistamine can help reduce itching and irritation around the wound. 
  4. Try an anti-inflammatory medication. If you have a medication like Motrin, Tylenol, Advil, or another kind of anti-inflammatory at home or work, try one of those to help reduce pain and swelling.

If you have the following symptoms, it’s time to call 911 and seek immediate medical attention:

  • Sudden-onset anxiety
  • Hives that spread across the body
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • A “tickle” in your throat
  • Tightness in your throat or chest
  • Wheezing
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Uncontrolled coughing

These symptoms could be a sign of a serious allergic reaction. Don’t delay in seeking medical attention. 


If you’re starting to see wasps around your home, don’t delay—call the experts at Moxie Pest Control for help. 

Our experts are at the ready with appropriate treatment plans that will resolve issues with wasps and other stinging pests. With the correct pest control solutions, it’s possible to minimize the risk of future wasp infestations and stings so you and your family can feel more comfortable in your home environment. Contact us today to find out more about your options.



Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!

Share this post: