At a glance: Wasp venom allergy

Oedema, erythema and pain at the site of the sting develops over hours and settles within a few days
Oedema, erythema and pain at the site of the sting develops over hours and settles within a few days

Epidemiology  

Sensitisation to wasp venom can occur after a single sting.  

Most common in the late summer and early autumn.  

Clinical features  

Oedema, erythema and pain at the site of the sting which is a non-allergic reaction to the venom. This usually develops over hours and settles within a few days.  

May cause blistering and secondary infection.  

Mild reactions result in urticaria, pruritis and/or angio-oedema.  

More severe reactions may cause anaphylaxis and can develop within 10 minutes.  

Investigations  

Wasp specific IgE (RAST) or skin-prick testing.  

Management 

Oral antihistamines for local reactions, with steroids reserved for more severe localised reactions  

Adrenaline IM if any life-threatening features and systemic steroids.  

Advice on avoidance.  

Immunotherapy is effective and should be considered in patients with a history of severe generalised reactions.  

Advice on avoiding wasp stings includes avoiding walking barefooted on grass, avoiding orchards, and not drinking directly from a can.  

Contributed by Dr Sangeeta Dhami, GP Locum, Edinburgh, and Professor Aziz Sheikh, division of community health sciences, University of Edinburgh  

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Under 40s to be offered alternative to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Under 40s to be offered alternative to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Patients aged 30-39 will be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19...

GPs per patient down 10% in just five years, NHS data reveal

GPs per patient down 10% in just five years, NHS data reveal

The number of fully-qualified, full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs per patient in England...

Supportive model must replace harmful CQC inspections, BMA chair warns

Supportive model must replace harmful CQC inspections, BMA chair warns

CQC inspections that ‘divert time away from patient care’ and ‘instil fear’ among...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

A 'tsunami' of work is drowning general practice: GPs speak out about a profession at its limit

A 'tsunami' of work is drowning general practice: GPs speak out about a profession at its limit

Rocketing workloads created by huge backlogs of cases and continuing COVID-19 disruption...

Slight increase in GP workforce during past year, but number of partners continues to fall

Slight increase in GP workforce during past year, but number of partners continues to fall

The GP workforce grew by 0.4% in the year to March 2021, but the number of GP partners...