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The Hidden Dangers of Insect Stings: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Family this Summer

Three days ago, I got the urge to do a little yard work. It had been very wet and muggy in our area, leaving me not wanting to go outside and work too hard. The weeds, however, were becoming an eyesore along our small patio, and I desperately needed to thin out a large patch of oregano that was growing at rapid speed in our back flower bed. I grabbed a few handfuls of weeds (gloves on, of course), tugged a few vines of the oregano and yanked them off of the plant, and turned to start walking toward my brush pile. I was simply minding my own business when the unexpected happened.

I felt a quick, sharp and painful prick in my arm. I stopped what I was doing, looked down, and saw a yellow jacket attached to my shorts, stinging me through my clothing on my thigh. As soon as I realized what was happening, several yellow jackets were chasing me. I dropped everything and ran (screaming all the while) into the house through the back door. 

A yellow jacket came into the house with me and stung me on the ear as I tried desperately to get out of my clothing. My husband ran to my aid, my kids ran and hid in another room, and I threw myself onto our bed, moaning in pain, completely nauseated, and finding it hard to breathe. I was sure that I was going to pass out, though thankfully, never did.

Multiple stings showed themselves immediately on my skin and quickly turned bright red and started to swell. To my recollection, I had only been stung previously once in my life, and I was pretty certain that it was a yellow jacket (but that was well over 20 years ago).

Since I have little to no experience with insect stings (and my husband has been stung numerous times), I turned to him for treatment. He applied several applications of baking soda paste over several hours, and we used a topical Benadryl cream. I also took Benadryl orally and then slept for nearly 9 hours.

The next morning, the sting sites were very itchy and red, and my arm looked worse. I kept on with the Benadryl, tried not to rub or scratch the areas where I was stung, and tried to go about my business as usual.

This is what Cellulitis looks like, folks!

By Thursday morning (about 36 hours after the incident), my arm was horribly swollen, super red, and the redness had spread down my arm. My fingers were also becoming numb. I knew this definitely wasn't a normal reaction to a wasp sting, figured I was having an allergic reaction and made an appointment to see my doctor later that morning, as I figured I needed Prednisone or a shot, or both.

My doctor deduced that I was definitely allergic to yellow jackets, and was having a pretty bad allergic reaction. She prescribed 5 days worth of Prednisone to help with the allergic reaction. What I wasn't expecting, however, was what she said next. The fact that the redness was spreading and I had numbness down my arm and into my fingers were symptoms of Cellulitis. I had only heard about Cellulitis in passing, and it never occurred to me that I could wind up with something like that from a wasp sting. 

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin, most often affecting the face, arms or legs. Skin infections are bad news, and if left untreated, Cellulitis can lead to sepsis, bone infection, inflammation of the heart, shock, etc. It's nothing to mess around with. Typically, it can be treated with antibiotics, which is what my doctor prescribed for me (10 days worth!).

After starting my meds to treat these issues, I am starting to improve. My doctor did stress that I needed to closely watch the affected areas and if the redness continued to spread or if I wound up with a fever of 104 or higher, I would need to be seen immediately. Scary as that was to hear, I was glad to have a plan in place if further action needed to be taken.

Today, I'm feeling better overall, but I know I'm not out of the woods just yet. I'm still watching the areas where I was stung. I'm thankful to be at home and not in the hospital. I had no idea that I was allergic to yellow jackets, and learned my lesson the hard way. I'm glad that I went with my gut instinct and went to the doctor when I felt that what was going on with my body was absolutely not normal. My doctor wholeheartedly agreed that it was a good thing that I came in to see her when I did. I count myself extremely lucky not to have had an anaphylactic reaction to the stings.

Our next step will be to call an exterminator to get the yellow jackets out of our yard. I want my kiddos to be able to play without having to worry about them being swarmed by yellow jackets. It was quite scary- even for thirty-six-year-old me!

If you or a family member winds up getting stung this summer, take immediate action. I can't give out medical advice, but listen to your body if something looks or feels off. In my case, going to the doctor quite possibly saved my life.

Have you ever been stung before? 
What was your experience like?

Let's chat insect bites and stings (they're a fact of life, right?). Drop me a comment below or catch me over on MBP social media @mommysblockparty on Facebook or @mommysblckparty on Twitter and IG.

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  1. Oh wow. I hope you are feeling better. When I was a kid it was almost impossible to keeps shoes on me. My grandpa had an apple orchard and the yellow jackets loved the apples that fell. I have stepped on them many times and it sure hurt! An old remedy was to put wet snuff/ tobacco on the sting and it drew out the poison and kept the pain and swelling down.

  2. Oh, yes. I'm familiar with stings from yellow jackets and wasps. I once stepped on a wasp. I'm sure my yelps were heard miles away.

  3. That is scary. I have been stung a lot, but only 1 or 2 at a time. When I was around 10, I spent a summer with my aunt, uncle and cousins. One day my uncle was working and one of my cousin and myself were floating in tubes in the pond, my aunt and the baby were sitting by the edge of the pond when all of a sudden my aunt started screaming, yelled at us to get out on the other side of the pond, picked up the baby and ran for the house. They must have been mud wasps because she said they came out of the mud and I will never forget how many stings she had all over her arms and back. Luckily her mother in law lived nearby and came and tended to her. I have to say my baby cousin didn't have one sting, amazing how she was able to protect him especially since it was a very long distance to the house and they chased her the whole way.

  4. Insect stings can definitely be scary! When my daughter was 3 she was playing outside and out of nowhere she started screaming. She had this crazy looking mark on her arm and luckily I was able to scoop up the fuzzy looking caterpillar and rush her to the E.R. It turned how it was a stinging caterpillar and she just needed a shot of Benadryl. They were happy that I brought it in though, as it helped diagnose it right away.

  5. I've been stung by bees a couple of times.

  6. Ugh. Sorry to hear that you were stung. Glad to hear that you're feeling better though. I hate bees, despite the fact that they're good for our environment. I've only been stung once my entire life. But, I did just get bit by some random bug tonight and man does my arm sting like crazy!

  7. I have to be real careful out side. I got stung by a yellow jacket when I was a kid and that is when we found out I am allergic to yellow jackets. My arm swelled twice the size. I am glad you are feeling better.


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