Allergies and Stings

First Aid Training - Insect stings


Usually a sting from a bee, wasp, hornet are not serious and are more painful than dangerous. But with any insect bite or sting it is important to look for signs of an allergic reaction.


  • Relieve any swelling and pain.
  • Arrange any medical treatment, if necessary.


  • You need to reassure and calm the casualty down.
  • There will be pain and possibly some redness and swelling around the site of the sting.
  • If the sting is visible, brush or scrape it off. You could use the blunt edge of a knife or a credit card for instance. Please don’t use tweezers are you risk squeezing more poison into the wound.
  • Apply an ice pack or cold compress for at least 10 minutes, and if possible raise the effected part.
  • If swelling and pain persist advise the casualty to see their doctor.
  • Stings to the mouth and throat can be dangerous. There is a risk of the tissues in the mouth and throat swelling which could cause the airway to become blocked.
  • Sucking on an ice cube, or an ice cream or lolly for instance for children ,or sipping cold water will prevent any swelling.
  • However, if the swelling starts to develop and breathing becomes difficult then arrange for medical help immediately.
  • Some people suffer severe allergic reactions to insect bites and stings, if the casualty shows any sign of impaired breathing or swelling to the face, neck, tongue, mouth or lips or shows a wide spread rash then dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance.

First Aid Training - Severe allergic reactions (Anaphylaxis)


A severe allergic reaction will affect the whole body, in susceptible individuals it may develop within seconds or minutes of contact with the trigger factor and is potentially fatal.

Possible triggers can include skin or airborne contact with particular materials, the injection of a specific drug, the sting of a certain insect or the ingestion of a food such as peanuts.

Recognition features

  • Impaired breathing: this may range from a tight chest to severe difficulty
  • There may be a wheeze or gasping for air.
  • Signs of shock.
  • Widespread blotchy skin eruption.
  • Swelling of the tongue and throat.
  • Puffiness around the eyes.
  • Anxiety.


Your aim is to arrange immediate removal of the casualty to hospital.

  • Dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance.
  • Give any information you have on the cause of the casualty’s condition.
  • Check whether the casualty is carrying any necessary medication. If they are, help them to use it.

If the casualty is conscious:

  • Help them to sit up in a position that most relieves any breathing difficulty, this is usually sitting up and leaning forward slightly.

If the casualty becomes unconscious:

  • Open the airway and check breathing.
  • Be prepared to give rescue breaths and chest compressions.
  • Place them into the recovery position if the casualty is unconscious but breathing normally.
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