First aid treatment for insect stings

Essential first aid for insect stings: Protecting your health and meeting compliance standards

Insect stings can range from a minor annoyance to a severe health threat, especially in high insect exposure. Individuals and organisations must have the knowledge and skills to manage these situations effectively. In this blog, Rose outlines key facts and best practices for first aid treatment of insect stings, underpinned by relevant legislation and guidelines to ensure compliance and safety in the workplace.

Key facts and statistics

Insect stings may lead to significant health issues across the UK, with an estimated number of people severely allergic to stings in the thousands. Reports suggest that up to 3% of adults and 1% of children have severe reactions, highlighting the importance of prompt and effective first aid response. Furthermore, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recognises insect stings as a workplace hazard in outdoor and specific indoor environments, necessitating proper first aid provisions under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981.

Key definitions

  • Insect stings - are injuries caused by an insect's venom injection into the skin, such as a bee, wasp, or hornet.
  • Anaphylaxis - A severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur rapidly after exposure to an allergen, such as an insect sting.

Relevant legislation and regulations

Under UK law, particularly regarding health and safety at work, Act 1974, employers are required to ensure the health and safety of their employees and any other persons who may be affected by their work activities. This includes the provision of appropriate first aid equipment and training. Specific to insect stings, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) may also apply, especially in environments with a high risk of exposure to stinging insects.

Immediate response to insect stings

  • Identify the sting - Different insects can cause different reactions; therefore, knowing the type of insect can inform the treatment.
  • Remove the stinger - For bee stings, gently scrape away the stinger using the edge of a credit card or a fingernail. Avoid using tweezers, as this can squeeze more venom into the skin.
  • Apply ice - Reduce swelling and pain with a cold pack or a cloth dampened with cold water.
  • Elevate the affected area - This can help reduce swelling and discomfort.

Managing allergic reactions

  • Recognise symptoms of anaphylaxis - These can include difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of the face, lips, or throat, dizziness, and a rapid heartbeat.
  • Administer an adrenaline auto -injector if available and trained to do so - Follow up with immediate medical attention.
  • Monitor the individual - Symptoms can recur, requiring further treatment.

Workplace preparedness

  • Training - Regular first aid training that includes specific responses to insect stings and the management of anaphylaxis.
  • First aid kits - Ensure these include items helpful in treating stings, such as antihistamine cream and cold packs.
  • Awareness - Regular risk assessments to identify areas with high insect activity and appropriate signage warning of the risks.


Organisations should integrate specific insect sting first aid procedures into their health and safety policies. Regular training and updates can help ensure employees are prepared to handle these incidents effectively. Additionally, creating and maintaining a safe working environment where risks are minimally exposed can reduce the incidence of insect stings.


Understanding and implementing effective first aid for insect stings not only helps alleviate pain and prevent severe allergic reactions but also ensures legal compliance with health and safety regulations. As we continue to encounter these challenges, particularly in outdoor or high-risk environments, education remains our best tool in promoting safety and preparedness in the workplace.

Ensure your team is ready and equipped to handle any situation with our specialised training courses on first aid for insect stings and other emergencies. Click here to explore our accredited first aid training programs and qualifications that are compliant with the latest UK health and safety regulations. Equip your workforce today to enhance safety and compliance tomorrow.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always seek professional medical assistance in emergency situations.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

Essential first aid for insect stings - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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