Hornet sting, pain of a wasp sting

Q. I was stung by a wasp last night. I had been drinking wine so I could not take Benadryl. I did cut open a Benadryl capsule and put the contents in a glass, poured a small amount of apple cider vinegar over that and added a pinch of baking soda. While that was bubbling, I put it on the sting. Two hours later it was no longer red, swollen or painful.

A. Thanks for offering a new remedy. Some people have found that just baking soda mixed with vinegar on a sting eases the pain.

Here are some other stories from visitors to this website:

“I was stung by a wasp and my husband looked on the computer to see what to do. I do not know if if was People’s Pharmacy, but probably so since we read the column in the newspaper every week. He poured Mylanta on my sting and the pain stopped immediately! I still used ice for the swelling since I am slightly allergic but the pain was gone. Amazing and thank you PP!” R.W.

“My land has been overrun with red wasps (Mahogany Wasps) this summer, literally thousands outside. I have been stung twice on my hand while walking. The first sting was bad enough, but the second one felt like a bullet.

“After trying the usual baking soda paste and watching my hand continue to swell like a balloon I tried the cut onion. It really helped the pain. My hand stayed swollen for days so next time I will try onion first.” Floyd

“I’d not heard of onions fighting insect stings. Thanks for that. I use meat tenderizer, and make a wet poultice of it I use a bandaid to keep it on a few minutes. I find it always works for me if I can put it on before the swelling starts. It stops the sting almost immediately.” P.J.D.

“My 14 month old son was stung 5 times on the arm. My sister-in-law rubbed a sliced onion over the inflamed area and right away the inflammation and swelling went away. All you could see were five dots where the wasp stung him and that was it! He was running and playing afterwards like nothing ever happened. We instantly called his doctor and were on the look out for an allergic reaction but thankfully everything ended well.” Tara

We are glad that Tara was vigilant to make sure there was no allergic reaction. Home remedies are great for simple problems, but an allergic reaction to a sting requires immediate emergency treatment. Anyone who is allergic to such stings should keep an EpiPen handy for emergencies. Epinephrine can prevent life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

Common sense is essential when using home remedies. If you are a believer in simple solutions to common ailments you will find hundreds of fascinating stories and suggestions in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

We were just interviewed by Carol Alt on her show, A Healthy You. You may find the video of interest. Carol pointed out at the start of the interview that the father of medicine, Hippocrates, suggested thousands of years ago that we should first do no harm and also let food be our medicine.

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  1. Joanne

    I used just a paste of baking soda & water. Let it dry, brushed it off & reapplied it. Did this about 4 consecutive times. Was amazed that it considerably reduced swelling & pain. Used it on a bee sting. I know bees & wasps may require different types of treatment to neutralize venom.

  2. helen

    Stung for the very first time by a wasp in the bushes I was clearing out. Hurt like being shot with a nail gun. Don’t know what that feels like, but I bet it’s the same! Washed it…tried hydrogen peroxide…iced it…some neosporin ointment. It continued to swell and throb with kind of a deep aching pain. Apple cider vinegar in fridge. Poured in a bowl and put hand in it. Immediately began to neutralize the pain. 3 more times, but just poured it on a cotton round and laid it on sting. I was able to sleep and by the next day, much better. People really need to watch for allergic symptoms. I looked it up online to see if I was going to die, because my whole hand was hurting so badly. What a little monster bug!!!

  3. Nessa
    Ashland, Or

    I took a beach towel out of the car and felt the sting. Then the venom started to go up my arm.

    I put food grade hydrogen peroxide and red clay on top. The pain stopped shortly after. If it comes back, I will try the onion.

  4. Anne
    Efland, NC

    Also, APIS homeopathic remedy helps tremendously with bee/wasp stings.

  5. Anne
    Efland, NC

    I have a collection of essential oils, 100% pure, which is very important. Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annuum), diluted in pure vegetable oil and rubbed under the nose, has always helped me with allergies. So, when I got stung by a wasp on the tip of my middle finger, I eventually remembered the anti-histamine properties of Blue Tansy.

    At the time, I had put baking soda paste and an onion on it for about 10 minutes. I added a drop of Blue Tansy essential oil on the onion and put my bite there, and I felt instant relief. The pain that was shooting up my tendon nearly up to my wrist was gone within seconds. The swelling came down quickly.

    After about 10 more minutes, it was well on the way to healing. Blue Tansy essential oil is not cheap, but you don’t need alot. I highly recommend it for anti-histamine issues such as allergies and bug bites. Caution: be sure to buy from a reputable company. Amazon and even health food stores don’t always carry pure oils. Also, the oil is ink blue and will temporarily stain your skin, but it easily washes off.

  6. savannah

    I got stung by a wasp on the back of my knee and my ring finger before I realized what it was. Put the penny on my leg and it stpped throbbing but my ring finger hurt more and swelled up. But held it on the swollen finger and it finally stopped the throbbing…I then followed up with manuka honey, which I put on any sore, skin eruption, etc. The combo worked very well…I found that they were building a nest in my grill and now I have to kill them.

  7. D L S.

    My daughter was pulling weeds and vine from around a tree when something flew up and stung her. I remembered the raw onion for pain. It immediately seemed to help.
    Your column is in the Dallas Morning News each Tuesday and I have saved so many columns. Your column and newsletter are invaluable! Thanks so much!

  8. MR

    My favorite remedy for bee stings is a chewed-up plantain leaf. This wonderful weed can usually be found nearby. Just google “plantain herb” and you’ll recognize it. The leaves are not very juicy, so people generally chew them a bit, then place the green glob where they were stung. I like to tape it down with first-aid tape for a few hours.
    If you’re going on a hike and think you may not find it on the trail, pick a few leaves from around the parking lot and put them in your pocket. The leaves can also be dehydrated and powdered for use in the wintertime.

  9. PAP

    My father told me a penny will take the sting and swelling out of a fire ant bite, and unfortunately I was able to test his advice. And it worked! A few weeks later I was with someone who was stung on the back of her neck by a wasp. Having only a penny handy, we tried that out again – again success. Have now used often for insect stings and has worked every time.

  10. Blues and Twos

    Hello sir,
    Thank you for your nice posting. We are glad that Tara was vigilant to make sure there was no allergic reaction. Home remedies are great for simple problems, but an allergic reaction to a sting requires immediate emergency treatment.

  11. Marilyn

    I was carrying groceries into my house when I was stung by a wasp. I really did not think anything about it since it did not hurt that much. However, a few days later I noticed my upper arm was swelling up. I took vinegar & baking soda to make a paste to apply to the area. The swelling went down very quickly.

  12. Onoosh

    My mother (an R.N., too!) used simple baking soda and water for stings.

  13. Judy

    Benadryl also comes in gel form. If this were a new product under patent it would be advertised all over the place because it is extremely effective for bites, stings, hives, and other itches. But as it is old and inexpensive few people are aware it exists. For bee stings I use baking soda first and then the benadryl gel, which can be reapplied as often as needed. It does not make you sleepy as it is just topical and doesn’t get into your system.

  14. lp

    My grandmother was from Moravia (past of Czech Republic) was a midwife and believed in using what was on hand. For wasp sting you use a thick mixture of baking soda and a little water. Put on bite and if stinger was still in it it would draw it out. For ringworm you break of a piece of fig tree and put the milky sap on sore. For an earache put a little peeled clove of garlic in a soft handkerchief and place in the front part of ear, not into the canal. These are all I remember right now. I was the 2nd to the youngest so I missed out on the herbal lessons

    • Bill
      madison, ms

      When I was a child, my parents used vinegar and baking soda on a wasp or bee sting. It didn’t really have any effect other than the natural comforting effect of knowing that something was being done while you were in pain.

      Now I just use cold water and ice to immediately ameliorate the pain and slow its effect, followed by an analgesic spray like Lanacaine, and a couple of Anacin tablets.

      Forget about those home remedies that simply have a comforting effect.

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