Death to All Yellow Jackets

I had hoped to share a slightly more fun post than this one, but now I’m just out for revenge against anything with a stinger. Why I thought it might be fun was because I paddocked at a local show on Saturday, and as it was the rain date it was small but enjoyable, and it’s nice to hang out with the Austin h/j community if you like snacks, saintly horses, and neuroses. My plan had been to post about what all goes into being a paddock master … until I discovered I needed hazard pay.

As it is wont to happen occasionally at a small show, if you are paddock master you are also jump crew. Before classes got underway, a trainer brought to my attention that a jump had to go both ways. I “borrowed” another flower box from a different jump to create a similar ground line on both sides of the fence. So the jump I borrowed it from need some fill back. I grabbed a brush box from somewhere and started moving it … and felt a fire ant bite on my arm. I looked down and it was a yellow jacket. He had brought friends. Apparently the brush box was home to a yellow jacket colony, so it was not going to stay in my arena. (Also how did no one notice this sooner? Presumably the jumps were moved around a lot Friday night while setting courses?) A trainer came in the ring to help me toss the offending brush box over the rail and my trainer came over with wasp spray and drowned the yellow jackets in deadly chemicals.

I still had to play jump crew and musical brush boxes a few more times, but we were done by 2:30pm so really it wasn’t too bad. The yellow jacket sting felt sore but actually wasn’t that bad so I figured I’d take some Benadryl before bed.

I woke at 3am with a horrendously itchy arm on fire. I took more Benadryl and hoped for the best. At a more reasonable hour of the morning, I took Conrad on a walk and my arm was still itchy. The sting had swelled up and reddened. But that wasn’t the only itchy part — basically my entire arm from wrist to elbow itched. I took more Benadryl, slathered cortisone all over my arm (which helped exactly two minutes) and iced the sting. Then I had to go about my day. I just wore one of my long sleeve shirts for sun protection but also hopefully to forget about my arm. But I could tell throughout the day that it was getting worse. My arm was hot and tight and the redness was spreading. I borrowed one of Eli’s ice boots after taking him on a walk. The icing provided the most relief. I iced more once I got home and took even more Benadryl. I slept through the night this time, but woke up with a bright red itchy arm with an area of tightness nearest the sting and an ache all up and down my arm to the shoulder.

Luckily, we have an in-house nurse at work (when you work in 1,000,000 sq ft of office space you get a dedicated nurse) so I thought it would be easier to just go see her than trying to go to urgent care. After discussing the whole thing and looking at and poking around my arm, she said she had concerns that this was turning into cellulitis. Like the texture of my flesh was troubling. Eesh.

Really, yellow jacket? Cellulitis? I am killing everything that buzzes from now on. Butterflies can pick up the pollinator slack.

So now I get to fill a few prescriptions after work and hope my arm starts to feel better in a few days. I really want to just scratch my skin off, but I think I can make it one more day without doing that … I actually cut the toes out of some knee highs to wear as a base layer arm sock under my regular shirt. I have no idea why this helps, but it stops me from digging at my skin directly with my nails. I don’t handle itching well at all. I would rather be in pain.

27 thoughts on “Death to All Yellow Jackets

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  1. OH MY GOD DEATH to ALL BUGS. I hate yellow jackets (and wasps, and horse flies and you name it). UGH sorry about that.

    I react too like that. It is amazing howmuch a damn mosquito bite and my skin reacts. I hope the meds help and you are back to normal (AKA SKIN) soon HA!


  2. When my scar from surgery was healing, it was CRAZY itchy and scratching it felt INCREDIBLY good. Touch cycle to break. I found that some topical cbd balm numbed my skin just enough that I didn’t feel the itch. I’ve also used cbd balm on some random itchy bump/skin tag/mole that I had for years (only started itching recently) and the entire thing went away in less than a week. I’m a believer.


  3. OOoohhhhhh that looks horrible! Ugh I am sorry. I can totally see like your entire lower arm all swollen as well. I am so sorry for all the itching and pain. I’m like you and I’d rather be in pain than itching. Does alcohol help at all? I have never gotten stung by one of those things so I have no idea if alcohol is like the last thing you wanna do lol.


    1. Oooo I should try putting alcohol on it before icing … or did you mean drinking it lol I’ll try that, too. I kinda wiped the sting down with witch hazel but rubbing alcohol might work better.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Long time reader here. Like MartiDoll, I react in a similar fashion.
    Yes , ice helps and anti-histamines are helpful after the sting.

    If you have not scratched it too much and the skin is not broken, you might find some relief from vinegar (white vinegar doesn’t stain clothes).
    If you have broken the skin, don’t use the vinegar. it will sting almost as bad as the yellow jacket.

    By the time you read this, the worst may be past, but something to keep in mind for future stings/bites.

    I end up with chigger bites just doing yard work. They can get as large as a Kennedy dollar coin and itch ferociously. Vinegar helps. I have used it on Wasp/yellow jacket stings and mosquito bites. Not certain why it helps.

    At night i found that the Neosporin with the Pain Relief helps with the itching too. Apparently it numbs enough so that the itching is reduced.

    … underground yellow jackets are the Worst! Mowing over a nest is not an experience I would wish on anyone and I have several experiences with that critter!

    M in NC


    1. Ooooh I hadn’t thought of the neosporin with pain relief. I bet anything with lidocaine could help, thanks!

      And yep, I get chigger bites, too. Pretty much exactly as you describe.

      I think at this point the cellulitis is the much bigger problem than the sting itself! The skin isn’t broken anywhere so I have no idea how it’s even infected 😳


        1. Oh damn! I don’t know what I’d do if I were allergic to prednisone. I hope you can take stuff like benadryl and other antihistmines. I am actually allergic to most antibiotics so I automatically get prednisone if I have to take antibiotics. How did people live before all these medications lol


          1. I only break out in hives from prednisone, but it sort of defeats the purpose. Lol. I can usually take prednisalone (even more strange) but the risk is still there. Right now I just try not to get stung or get poison ivy (also allergic). I got stung/bitten by something (not a wasp/bee/normal bug) last summer and didn’t go to the doctor and then found my ankle was so swollen I could barely walk most of my vacation… But I was in the middle of nowhere and they’d probably amputate so… I don’t do well with stuff.


          2. Ack! That’s like exactly why I take prednisone — hives from antibiotics 😳 and that was probably a very good decision to avoid health care in the middle of nowhere.


  5. Ugh, worst! I agree, I think butterflies should work a little harder so we could do without the bees. I react like that to pretty much everything. I got attacked just by mosquitoes a few weeks ago, and the freaking bites BLISTERED. Mosquito bites! It was ridiculous. I have scars now. Gross.
    I hope you’re feeling better asap, and I’m glad you sought the help of the work nurse. Better safe, that’s for sure!


    1. Ughhhhhh that sounds awful about the mosquito bites. You’d think with the amount of fly spray that we must be inadvertantly covered in nothing would bother us horse people but nope.


  6. Ahhh I’m so sorry you got stung!! I ride there, and our jumps don’t get moved often — they’d been set for the original date and I doubt they got moved at all over the next week. 😦 They’ve been bad lately, something was chasing my trainer around the arena a couple weeks ago. Ugh ugh ugh.

    I hope you feel better soon, and that it’s not cellulitis! 😬


    1. Ohhh that makes sense about them not being moved, of course they would have been set already the week before! Duh. I’ve been paddocking for over a decade so I probably should have realized that. Yellow jackets are so agressive!


      1. Don’t worry, I strongly suspect we move our jumps much less frequently than most barns, even without show courses already being set. Yellow jackets really are the worst!!

        I’m sorry I missed you, hope I catch you at the next show!


  7. Jeez. I opened a gate on Thursday that had a wasp nest IN THE GATE… I was lucky to escape with one sting on my upper lip. Fuckers. Luckily I didn’t have nearly as bad of a reaction as you are having (yikes! hoping the drugs are helping!) but the swelling keeps coming back overnight.

    At least they’re all dead now. Fuckers.


  8. Good Grief! Sounds like you are seriously allergic to those little yellow jacketed buggers ( excuse language please). Please be extra cautious and avoid them in future if at all possible.


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