Hornet Sting: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Hornet Sting: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Hornet stings like any other bee and wasp stings are extremely painful and can have severe effects on the human body even leading to death. In fact, to be more precise, hornet stings are more dangerous in comparison to any other bee or wasps stings. As a result, it needs immediate care and actions. The section below hence gives complete information about hornet sting, its symptoms, first aid, its home remedies, prevention and everything else to know about it.

What is a Hornet Sting?

Hornets are the largest wasps that look quite similar to yellow jackets. The stings of the hornet are venomous. The hornets use their stings to protects their nests and kill their prey. The toxicity of the hornet stings is more venomous in comparison to other bees and wasps. This is for the fact that the venom of the hornet contains acetylcholine in it.

People are mostly affected by hornet sting in the summer seasons. The reaction to the hornet sting varies from person to person. This depends on the severity of the sting and whether or not the person affected is allergic to the venom. Therefore, the treatment of hornet stings also varies from individual to individual.

Hornet Sting Symptoms

The reaction to a hornet sting or to be precise, the symptoms of it largely depends on if and how much the person is allergic to the sting. Some of the most common initial symptoms of a hornet sting are immediate pain, swelling, itching, and redness.

The venom of the hornet when stung gives way to a toxic reaction at the area where it has stung. There could be three possible kinds of hornet sting reactions.  These are:

  • Normal local reaction
  • Large local reaction
  • Anaphylaxis

Therefore, some of the hornet sting reaction to look for is:

Normal Local Reaction

The term ‘Normal Local Reaction’ is used to describe the basic reaction that happens to everyone who is stung by a hornet. These are minor symptoms that a person should look for to ensure they are stung. Some of these reactions are immediate burning pain and swelling. Along with this, the person stung might also notice a white mark marking the exact place where the hornet has stung:

  • Immediate pain: A person feels a sharp burning pain immediately after being stung by a hornet. This pain is often described as stinging and burning and often lasts a few seconds to several hours or days.
  • Redness and Swelling: The area where the hornet has stung becomes red and swells immediately. The area stung starts to itch and can last up to 2 days to 1 week of the incident.

Large Local Reaction

The term ‘Large local reaction’ is used to describe those reactions of hornet sting that occurs in addition to the normal reactions. These mostly occur to the people who are allergic to venom that the hornets pass on by stinging. However, a person who has had an allergic reaction from one sting is not bound to have the same reaction from other stings as well.

Some of the things that follow the large local reaction are:

  • The area around where the hornet has stung swells extremely and can enlarge more than or up to 12 inches.
  • It can lead to pain and swelling in the joints.
  • Certain allergic reactions may follow. These reactions could be vomiting, headache, nausea, rashes, and fever. This generally happens more in cases if the hornet stings multiple times.


Often people after being stung by a hornet face anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that could be life-threatening. The person therefore stung by the hornet faces an immediate state of shock just within moments of it. This happens because the body responds to block the venom by releasing a lot of chemicals. This is followed by the blood pressure of the person dropping suddenly which then is followed by difficulty in breathing and choking.

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Some of the symptoms to look for in Anaphylaxis are:

  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Cramps in the stomach
  • Fainting and Dizziness
  • Swelling of the face
  • Swelling of the lips
  • Problems in Breathing because of a swollen throat
  • Drop-in blood pressure
  • Pale skin, hives, itching and other skin reactions
  • Pulse not in order
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Diarrhea

In case a person is affected by anaphylaxis, they should be immediately be taken to the doctor to seek help. Anaphylaxis requires an immediate epinephrine injection to be given to the person stung by the hornet.

How to treat Hornet Stings?

If the sting reaction is normal to large, i.e. the person affected is not allergic to hornet or wasp venom, then they should be treated with local treatment of wounds. These reactions could be treated at home along with certain medications.

Normal to large stings

The remedies for normal to large reactions of hornet sting are:

  • The venom left by the hornet must be washed properly. Hence, the area of the sting of the hornet must be carefully washed with soap and water.
  • In order to reduce the pain and the swelling, wrap an ice cube in a cloth and place it on the area of the sting.
  • Ensure the area of the sting is dry and completely clean. This prevents the area from getting further infected.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment to the affected area.
  • Cover the area with a bandage if required.
  • In order to treat the pain and the itching and pain, oral treatment could be required.
  • Medications to avoid other symptoms like drowsiness and upset stomach should also be taken.

In cases where the person stung by the hornet is allergic to its venom, it might cause severe reactions. This could also lead to their death if they get Anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction.

If the person gets affected with Anaphylaxis, then immediate action is required. An epinephrine injection needs to be given to the affected person immediately. Immediate professional help in certain cases is must.

Immediate action

The immediate actions one should take in case of a severe allergic reaction are:

  • Provide CPR or ‘Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation’ to the person affected if the breathing has stopped temporarily.
  • Provide them with medicines or other steroids in order to improve their breathing.
  • Give them medicines for their immune systems.

What are the home remedies for Hornet Stings?

Hornet venoms, unlike bee stings, are alkaline in nature. Therefore by using home remedies that are acidic in nature can help to cure the pain and swelling at a good extent.

Some of the home remedies to help curb down the effects of the hornet bites are listed below. Although none of these remedies can assure a permanent solution to the pain of any of either symptom, it can definitely help in giving instant relief to the pain.

1. Vinegar

The venom of hornets is more of alkaline in nature. Hence, applying vinegar on the area where the hornet has stung helps in neutralizing the effect of the venom. This is because the vinegar is acidic in nature. The person affected by the hornet can dip a cotton ball on vinegar and put it on the area of the sting to feel the difference in pain and swelling. Apple cider vinegar can also be used to give some relief to the pain.

2. Baking Soda

Applying baking soda mixed with water to the affected area can help reduce the swelling, pain, and itching to a huge extent. Put the paste of the baking soda and water on the area of the stung and then cover it with a bandage. The bandage needs to be left that way for 15 minutes or more and needs to be reapplied if, as and when required.

3. Cucumber

Applying cucumber on the area of the sting helps to reduce the swelling and the pain by working as a natural astringent. Therefore, like all other astringents, it helps in constricting or shrinking the tissues of the body. Hence to use it as a cure, rub a slice of cucumber on the area of the sting.

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4. Ice

Applying ice cubes to the area of the sting can provide a remedy to the swelling and pain. This is because applying ice slows down the flow of the blood to the area of the sting. Cover the affected area with a clean cloth. Apply the ice cube or ice pack on the sting area for a minimum of 20 minutes.

What are the differences between a Hornet and a Bee sting?

When a person is stung, they often get confused if they sting is by a bee or a hornet. This is also for the fact that reactions to both hornet and bee stings are similar. Some of the reactions to these stings are swelling on the area of the sting, itching and extreme pain. However, even though the reactions to both hornet and bee stings are similar, the venom produced by them is different.

But to treat them more efficiently, a person has to first identify if they are stung by a bee or a hornet. Therefore, there are certain differences noticing which one can find out what they are stung by. The reaction of a person to a hornet and a bee sting could be different. A person being allergic to one of these stings does not mean they are allergic to the other sting as well.

A bee after stinging a person loses its stinger and dies. The stinger of the bee, therefore, needs to be carefully pulled out from the skin of the person stung. Whereas, on the other side, the sting of the hornet does not come out after they sting. This is the reason why a hornet can sting multiple times.

Hence, as the hornet can sting at the same place multiple times, their sting is more painful than that of a bee sting and is extremely uncomfortable. It is also more painful than a bee sting for the reason that the venom of a hornet contains acetylcholine which stimulates pain to a great extent.

Therefore, even though bee stings would be painful at first, it will ultimately subside. However, hornet stings are more serious and painful and need immediate care and action for they sting multiple times.

How to prevent a Wasp Sting?

It is better to follow certain prevention methods to secure oneself against a hornet sting than later running out for ways to cure it. Hence, the following steps below can help one keep away from a hornet sting.

  • Keep all the areas of the house clean. Look out more for outdoor campaign areas and dining spaces.
  • Wear covered shoes in order to protect your feet.
  • Wear fully covered shirts and pants to keep you covered.
  • Avoid wearing clothing of bright colors and go for mostly white and its shades.
  • Refrain from putting strong scents.
  • Refrain from going near a hornet nest or hive.
  • Avoid going in areas where there are hornet hives or nests.
  • Look out for hornet nests before cleaning the garden.
  • Attend all the sugary drinks and do not leave any unattended. Check an unattended one before one consumes it.
  • Do not bully or disturb a hornet intentionally.
  • If a hornet sits on you, do not lose your calm or try to shoo it away. Let the hornet fly away in its own will.

Although some hornet bites can have moderate reactions in certain people, there are some people who can also get life-threatening symptoms. As the venom of the hornets is extremely dangerous, there are a large number of deaths that occur every year due to hornet and bees sting all over the world.

Therefore, to save oneself, one must ensure to keep away from places where there are chances of hornets to stay and thrive and follow the various other prevention methods listed above. If one is stung by a hornet, following the home remedies and other treatments immediately can help cure the pain and other symptoms of the hornet bites. In any way, immediate action and care must be taken in these cases.

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