Q. I got stung by yellow jackets last week and reacted terribly. I swelled up and broke out in hives all over my body. It was so unbearable I had to go to the emergency room for treatment.

I never reacted this way to bees, wasps or yellow jackets before. Now that I know I am super allergic, is there any remedy I can use to counteract the stings?

A. Home remedies are inappropriate for serious allergic reactions. They require immediate emergency treatment instead.

Now that you know you are susceptible to such stings, ask your doctor whether you should keep an EpiPen on hand for such emergencies. This prescription auto-injector allows an allergic patient to self administer epinephrine (adrenaline). It can help reverse life-threatening anaphylactic shock, which is a risk for people like you.

An allergist may be able to provide desensitization shots so that you can avoid this severe allergic reaction in the future. Venom immunotherapy against stings can be quite effective (Current Opinions in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Aug., 2014).

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  1. schrocko

    Epipen is awkward to carry especially for men. I like Auvi-Q which gives the same 0.3 mg injection of epinephrine but measures 3 1/ x2x1/2 in.
    It is so important to have for people in danger of anaphylaxis. Robert Schrock MD

  2. Donnie

    My mom was allergic to bee venom and had anaphylaxis when stung by bees. I use Yellow Jacket traps, and that gets rid of most of the vicious brutes. The traps do not harm Honeybees, because they collect pollen and are not attracted by Yellow Jacket traps. The dangerous bees nest in the ground and can nest in cavities in the foundation of the house. They are attracted to propane tanks and are often found under the cover or near the tanks. Yellow Jackets are also attracted by rotting fruit, and standing water. There are various types of Yellow Jacket traps, and we have good results using real 100% apple juice as bait (not apple flavored juice). Children and pets are at high risk of being attacked by a swarm of Yellow Jackets. My husband got stung by several of them, when he accidentally stepped in a ground nest.

  3. MAP

    I was 7 months pregnant with my son when I was stung by a yellow jacket on my stomach. Luckily, the sting didn’t affect my son. Another time I was stung when I was mowing the lawn. We discovered a nest of thousands of yellow jackets in an underground nest.

  4. Ohle Kajer

    Why is an EpiPen a prescription and not OTC?

  5. Jan Shelden

    Until I moved to VA, I never knew that yellow jackets can have hives in the ground. Many people here were stung multiple times mowing the lawn! We were just going to dig a flower bed in our newly purchased home, when my daughter heard buzzing. That saved us from a load of grief. Now a NY friend said a fellow ran into one mowing their lawn! Be very careful- look before you dig or mow.

  6. Gary S

    I too was recently stung by a errant yellow jacket. I did not have a violent internal reaction, but the area hurt like the dickens for eight hours then gradually tapered off. For a week after the itching was annoying but not painful. Question: Does the recent sting amount to an immunotherapy inoculation for future stings, or does it make me more prone to more violent reaction the next sting?

  7. KB

    I also have been stung many times by bees and yellow jackets with no problem. However, the other morning while taking out the trash I disturbed several of those small, fast yellow jackets. One flew up and stung me on the underside of my forearm. By the next day, my entire forearm was swollen, red, achy/itchy, and hot. No respiratory problems or hives so I didn’t go to the ER. By the next day it was getting better. I understand that these bites can be cumulative, but I also wonder if there is something different about these yellow jackets.

  8. cpmt

    my mother in law used vinegar in my daughter’s foot to help with the pain, (not to prevent reactions)

  9. KRB

    I’ve always known that I’m deathly allergic to bees, but I’ve been stung by yellow jacket before with no adverse reaction. This spring, I was stung by one (on top of foot) and 2 days later when my foot was purple, I went to ER. I was told by the doctor that stings can have a cumulative affect – the more times you are stung, the worse it will be. Made a believer of me, and I now carry an EpiPen.

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