Insect sting allergies are very common and, unfortunately, so are anaphylactic, or life-threatening, insect sting reactions. Read more below to understand which insects sting, how to avoid them, and how to treat insect sting reactions.
Which Insects Sting?
The most dangerous insect stings come from wasps, yellowjackets, honeybees, hornets, and fire ants. Fire ants are the number one cause of allergic reactions. They, along with these other insects, can sting over and over again, resulting in painful site swelling, itching, and redness. Sadly, most commercial repellents are ineffective against these insects.
What Other Reactions Result From Insect Stings?
About three percent of adults and 0.4 to 0.8 percent of children in the United States receive life-threatening insect stings each year. These life-threatening reactions are called anaphylaxis and result in physical symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness and fainting
- Oral swelling
- Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
- Steep drop in blood pressure
Some insect stings can even result in loss of life. So, it is important to take immediate action if you suspect you may be experiencing an allergic reaction to an insect sting.
How Can Insect Sting Allergies Be Treated?
Mild local reactions respond well to cleansing with soap and water, cold compresses, and the application of antibiotic ointment to open skin or broken blisters. Try not to pick at or scratch the site. If you have been stung by a bee, hornet, or wasp, gently scrape the site to remove the stinger.
Severe allergic reactions require immediate medical attention at a hospital ER, particularly if the person is not aware of their insect allergy and therefore does not carry an injectable prescription adrenaline,like an EpiPen. If they do carry the medication, it should be injected right away, even before transport to the emergency room.
Additionally, if you suspect you have an insect allergy–or have discovered you have one–you should be evaluated by an allergy and immunology specialist. Skin prick testing can reveal which insects you are allergic to.
How Can I Avoid Insect Stings?
In the summer months or in climates with year ‘round warm temperatures, insect stings are very common. However, with a few simple precautions, you can reduce the risk of getting stung and keep your allergies–particularly the most dangerous reactions–under control. The precautions everyone should take are:
- Dressing to cover the feet, legs, hands, and arms as much as possible when hiking in the woods or working in shrubbery or home gardens, overhangs, and foundation spaces.
- Avoiding open beverage containers and garbage cans containing food wrappers and scraps.
- Avoiding perfumes, after shave lotions, or fragrant dryer sheets.
- Covering plates of food during outdoor picnics.
- Carrying allergy medications with you at all times.
- Screening all windows and doors and keeping them in good repair.
- Closing car windows and using air conditioning.
Stinging Insect Allergy Treatment in Naperville, Illinois
At Oak Brook Allergists, our professional staff understands the dangers associated with insect allergies. They are fully equipped to treat and test both children and adults who are prone to this potentially dangerous condition.
To learn more about insect sting allergies, call us for an appointment with Drs. Pongonis, Knysak or Rubin at (630) 574-0460, or request a visit online. We are conveniently located in Downers Grove, Plainfield, Naperville, and Elmhurst, Illinois.