How to deal with stinging nettle stings

Fact Checked

A stinging nettle is an herbaceous perennial plant. Generally, it has herbal properties and grows back year after year. The leaves and stems are covered with brittle, hollow and hair-like structures. These hair-like structures act like a hypodermic needle when in direct contact with the plant. Chemicals flow through the hollow tubes and cause a stinging sensation and a rash that can be quite painful. The stinging nettle can also cause redness, itchiness and swelling of the affected area.

Treatment for stinging nettle stings

  • Avoid touching the affected area for at least 10 minutes and pour fresh water without touching the area to prevent pain from lingering for days. The irritant from plants become dry on the surface of the skin and can be removed by soap and water. The chemicals from stinging nettle include serotonin, moroidin, acetylcholine, leukotrienes and formic acid.
    Stinging nettle

    Apply a cool compress on the area to lessen stinging, redness and discomfort.

  • If soap and water is not available, use a clean cloth and gently remove debris and dirt from the affected area until it can be properly cleaned.
  • Apply a cool compress on the area to lessen stinging, redness and discomfort.
  • Apply duct tape on the affected and remove the tape. This remedy helps remove any fibers that lodge in the skin.
  • If duct tape cannot completely remove all fibers of stinging nettle on the skin, use a wax hair removal product. Apply a layer of wax hair removal on the affected area and let it dry for at least 5 minutes. Gently peel off the wax.
  • Mix baking soda with a few drops of cold water and mix well until it becomes a paste. Generally, apply the paste on the rash to lessen the itchiness, inflammation and burning sensation.
  • Apply fresh aloe vera gel on the affected area to lessen the redness, inflammation and burning sensation.
  • Take a cool bath or shower to relieve and lessen the redness and inflammation of the affected area.

Additional measures

  • Make a poultice using mud and rub into affected area and let it dry in the air. When it is already dry, brush it off to remove the sting and any nettles left.
  • Avoid scratching the nettles to prevent further irritation of the affected area.
  • Apply vinegar on the sting site to neutralize the toxin.
  • Apply the prescribed over-the-counter medication with hydrocortisone to treat rash with itching, redness and inflammation. Calamine relieves and lessens the burning sensations and itchiness of the area.
  • Lastly, take the prescribed over-the-counter oral antihistamines to lessen the symptoms of stinging nettle.

A severe allergic reaction can occur with symptoms such as a tight feeling in the chest, difficulty breathing, wheezing and rash that spreads beyond the affected area. If the person is experiencing stomach upset, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea, seek medical help immediately.

FACT CHECK

https://www.healthline.com/health/stinging-nettle-rash

https://www.wikihow.com/Treat-a-Sting-from-a-Stinging-Nettle

https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/accidents-and-injuries/bites-and-stings/stinging-nettles

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  • All classesfirstaid.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.