Assuming I am not allergic, or showing signs of allergic reaction, what's the best way to treat multiple yellow jacket (a type of wasp) stings in the outdoors while hiking/backpacking?

My key concern is pain reduction, since (barring and allergic reaction) I am not returning to town for a sting. I've tried cortisone cream and it's placebo level pain reduction at best.

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    I was going to recommend that you be the one to answer this question when I saw it, and then I realized... you were the one who asked the question. Good question. – Clare Steen Feb 10 '12 at 19:54
  • @ClareSteen -- Yeah after the last time I experience yellow jackets I want a better solution. That hurt and the only blessing was the river to soak my ankles in. – Russell Steen Feb 10 '12 at 19:57

There are several things that supposedly reduce the pain - if you have any baking soda with you (sounds silly but if you frequently get stung it may be a good idea for this reason) then mixing some in with water and applying it can reduce the sting. Note that a common misconception is that all wasp stings are alkali, and therefore vinegar should be applied - a yellow jacket's sting isn't however, it's acidic!

Antihistamines can also help with the swelling, so (barring other health complications) taking some of them should help things.

If you have nothing along those lines with you then I've seen several sources mention that a mud pack, mud mixed in with water and then applied to the wound can work well. Presumably this works best in areas where the soil is alkaline.

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I have recently been stung by spider wasps ; ID is not easy as all I have seen is a small black wasp flying away. I had single stings on 4 days of a 5 day period so I could try different treatments. Very painful stings ( more than the common red wasps we have). I was surprised to find that immediate washing with soap and water was a big help , and if followed by cold compresses ,the pain was reduced and all redness and swelling were eliminated. This treatment was so successful that I did not use antihistamine at the last sting. By comparison ; for the first sting I used cold compresses, topical and internal antihistamine but had discomfort , redness and swelling of an arm for 2 days.

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  • The soap will be alkaline, which probably went a long way to helping (as well as potentially washing some of the poison out of course.) – berry120 Oct 4 '19 at 7:58

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