Insect sting allergies

Some individuals have insect sting allergies. If stung by an insect, their poison and other toxins can enter the skin. Generally, there is some swelling, pain, redness and itchiness around the sting site. On the other hand, some might end up with an allergic reaction if the immune system erroneously reacts to the allergens present in the sting.

In most cases of insect sting allergies, an individual will not experience a severe allergic reaction when first stung. Nevertheless, even if the first reaction to a sting is mild, they can worsen with every sting. Remember that the next reaction can be severe or even deadly.

What are the causes of insect sting allergies?

Insect sting allergies occur once the immune system strongly reacts to the allergens in the sting. Some of the stinging insects that can trigger allergic reactions include:

  • Wasps
    Insect sting allergies

    Itchiness around the sting site or any part of the body.

  • Bees
  • Fire ants
  • Hornets
  • Yellow jackets

What are the indications?

The signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from minor to severe.

Mild reactions

  • Pain, redness and swelling around the sting
  • Itchiness around the sting site or any part of the body

Large, localized reactions can trigger the same symptoms as mild reactions along with:

  • Swelling and redness that affects the whole leg, arm or large part of the body
  • Swelling that continues to increase up to 48 hours

Remember that a significant local reaction can take up to 10 days to settle.

Severe reactions

  • Hives
  • Swollen throat, tongue or other body parts
  • Diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Anaphylaxis or a severe, life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical assistance since it causes confusion, difficulty breathing and other symptoms.


What to do if an individual is stung?

For severe reactions from insect sting allergies that includes difficulty breathing and confusion, the following must be done:

  • If a severe reaction is suspected, administer a shot of epinephrine in the thigh muscle.
  • Call for emergency assistance

For a large, localized reaction or mild reaction, it can be managed at home:

  • An ice pack must be used to reduce the swelling. If possible, elevate the affected body part.
  • Provide an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • An antihistamine can be given to reduce the itchiness.


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