Hornets and yellow jackets are types of wasps, which are in the
same family of insects (Hymenoptera) as bees and fire
ants. Wasps can sting a person repeatedly without losing their stingers, and
reactions can vary from minor to severe.
Wasp stings cause different reactions in people:
Most people have a minor reaction, with a bump
or wheal at the site of the sting. Intense immediate pain and itching may be
present and may last from a few hours to a few days.
reaction can occur when a person has been stung 10 or more times.
severe, life-threatening allergic reaction can occur
A large skin reaction can occur, causing redness and
swelling to extend beyond the sting site. This reaction lasts about 3 to 4
Serum sickness is a rare reaction to stings in which flu-like
symptoms and hives develop 7 to 14 days after an insect sting.
Wasps are usually more aggressive than bees. Yellow jackets cause
the most allergic reactions.
Home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve pain and
itching from minor reactions. Severe reactions require emergency medical
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.