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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ouch! Stung!


This is a little bit what the little bugger that stung me looked like.
Photo courtesy of

http://neighborhoodnature.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/cicada-killer-wasps-are-back/.
Most folks know wasps find BBQs as mouthwatering as us homo sapiens.  Walking along Grande Case’s beach BBQ cafes, I would’ve expected to be more likely to fight a wasp for a bit of BBQ, not a piece of my arm, especially since I was just passing through, not eating anything. 

Given that, when I felt a sudden sting, it caught me by complete surprise to find myself brushing a wasp off my wrist. I was even more surprised to find a good-sized stinger left behind, still sticking out of my wrist.  Wayne quickly removed the stinger.

Day 2 wasp sting symptoms:  Swollen hand.
Note the difference between my left (normal)
hand and right (stung) hand.
The sting… stung, and felt a bit sensitive, like a bruise.  However, as I’m not overly allergic, I did my best to block the irritation from my attention. I did maintain just enough awareness of it to make sure I wasn’t experiencing any severe allergic reactions that would require prompt medical attention, or the retrieval and use of an epi pen, which was on our boat, nearby.

Wayne and I proceeded with our hike to a local beach, where we hung out for a while, swam, and hiked back.  It was a warm day; we probably hiked about 4 miles round trip. 

Several hours later, back at our boat, my wrist still felt irritated; I put a topical for insect bite on it, repeatedly, through the eve as the itching kept me awake.  In the morning, the sting was still irritating.  My hand began swelling.  I took an antihistamine and repeated the topical salve.

This is still Day 2.  Note the difference between my left
(normal)arm and right (stung) arm.  See the bulge?  By
Day 3,my right arm was swollen not just a third of the
way to my elbow, but all the way to my elbow.
If I had medical insurance, at that stage, I probably would have sought medical care.  Without it, I chose to watch for other symptoms and wait.  As the day progressed, my hand swelled more, as did my arm, but still no other symptoms, such as headaches, loss of energy, weakness, body temperature changes.  If we had ice, I would have used it; taking ocean swims and placing cool liquid containers helped, but not enough.  By the third day, my arm swelled to my elbow, but still no other symptoms.  I purchased a better antihistamine and the pharmacist recommended a compress solution.  
This is the poultice solution the
pharmacist recommended.  It was
not difficult to figure out how to use it
despite French instructions at the
pharmacy and on the packaging and
labeling.  It was stinky, but did
a great job!

The compress felt really good, and over the next two days, the swelling receded almost completely in my hand, wrist and arm. It took over 5 days from the sting for my arm to return to normal. 

Bottom line:  watch out for those wasps!  If stung, if your symptoms and personal allergy history aren’t severe enough to require medical attention, at the very least, consult with a pharmacist as soon as possible.