Are you one of the millions across the UK who hate wasps? Scores of people across the country cannot stand the thought of a wasp buzzing around their head or are afraid of getting stung. For most people, it is a completely understandable reaction. However, in some cases, if you are anxious around wasps, you could be suffering from one of the most widespread, far-reaching phobias. It is possible you may be suffering from a condition known as Spheksophobia, or an ongoing fear of wasps.

WaspThe name comes from a combination of the Greek words spheco, which translates as `wasps` and the Phobos, who, in Greek mythology, was the personification of fear or dread. If you are afflicted with Spheksophobia, it is not uncommon to experience a panic attack if you see a wasp, or the very thought of an insect nearby can be enough to bring on an episode. For sufferers across the country, their phobia can be the bane of their existence, which they may live with every day.

Spare a thought then for 70-year-old Stephen Cockroft from Delamere in Cheshire whom, trimming his hedge in the back garden, disturbed a wasp’s nest which saw him being stung over forty times. The enraged swarm attacked his face and upper torso and when he ran away, they chased after the man and kept stinging him. Eventually, when the attack was over, a shaken and hurt Mr Cockroft required medical attention and had to go to casualty, as there were no on the day doctors’ appointments available.

It may have been a horrific attack but, in many respects, Mr Cockroft could consider himself fortunate. If you are stung by a wasp unless you have an allergy, it generally isn’t hazardous, but if you are stung 30 or 40 times, it could be fatal.

Experts say a wasp will invariably only string you if it considers you a threat. It may go against your instincts, but it is advised if you see a wasp, you should not try to swat it away, but instead, keep calm and back away slowly. People should also be aware that, distinguishable from bees, wasps do not expire after a single sting and may keep on stinging you again and again.

If you are hurt, you should remove any stings from your skin and clean out the wound with soap and water. You should also place a cold flannel or ice pack for ten minutes, and keep the area raised, to bring down the swelling. There are also over the counter medications like painkillers and antihistamines you can take, to deal with the wasp sting.

However, you should keep a close eye out. If your symptoms persist or worsen, you may have to contact your GP, or in extreme cases, you may have to call 999. Particularly if you experience trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, swelling in the face, mouth or throat, or have heart trouble, you may require medical assistance. There have also been instances of people suffering anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction which, left unchecked, could be life-threatening.

Since this is the time of year that wasps are dying off and are more likely to sting, you should be extra vigilant when dealing with them.