Wasp sting: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

Wasp sting is a severe lesion caused by wasp venom.


Causes

Wasps often nest in the woods, caves, or under the eaves outside the windows of family rooms. Their tail has a stinger and venom gland. They like to live in groups and often fly in groups. When humans walk or work in the places where wasps inhabit, the wasps often swarm up and sting the exposed skin.

Figure 1 wasps and the nest

Wasp venom contains histamine, dopamine, kinin, mast cell degranulating peptide, neurotoxin, phospholipase A2, and hyaluronidase.


Signs and Symptoms

There are pain and swelling after stings, aggravating within 12 - 48 hours. The skin lesions may enlarge and rupture, forming different sized ulcers.

Figure 2 wasp sting

Allergic reactions occur few minutes to several hours after stings and are manifested by rapid expansion of skin rash, suffocation, difficulty breathing, nausea, and vomiting, and some patients may have diarrhea. Anaphylactic shock may occur in some patients, and is the main cause of early death.

There may be dark brown urine, low back pain, and renal function changes, and anemia may occur in the late stage.

Kidney damage can be caused by toxins directly acting on the renal tubules or hemolysis, and is manifested by systemic edema, oliguria, and changes in renal function.

Liver injury is mostly due to the deposition of immune complexes causing hepatocyte necrosis, and is manifested by an increase in serum enzymes.

The nervous system and cardiovascular system may be involved.


Diagnosis

If there is a history of wasp stings, the disease can be diagnosed.


Treatment

Wasps don’t leave their stinger in the skin, and local rinse with water and cold compress are appropriate.

If there are severe reactions, glucocorticoids, hemoperfusion, and supportive treatment may be required.