American adults and kids alike experience stings from insects. A small percentage of each group is allergic to the venom that bugs inject into the skin. The resulting reactions may be mild to life-threatening. If you are pregnant, do what you can to avoid insect stings and minimize the health risks to you and your baby. Here’s more about staying healthy during those important nine months.
Which Insects Sting and Why Pregnancy Can Increase the Risk
Insects that sting with venom include bees, yellow jackets, fire ants, and wasps. Not all spiders are venomous, but common venomous spiders in the US include the black widow, brown recluse, and mouse spider.
Insects that bite (and do not release venom) include mosquitoes, ticks, and mites. However, these are still dangerous because they can still cause allergic reactions and may even carry diseases such as malaria or Lyme disease.
Typically, insects sting because their nests are threatened or because they are attracted by strong fragrances from shaving lotions, cosmetics, perfumes and laundry soaps.
Also, changes in physiology which happen during the nine months of pregnancy can cause insects to attack. For instance, sweating and body heat seem to attract stinging insects. The increased body temperature of pregnant women puts them at increased risk for stings. Further, when a woman is pregnant, she produces more breath, or exhales more (by a full 21 percent) compared towomen who aren’t pregnant. Insects seem to be attracted to this increased respiratory output as well.
Treating Allergic Reactions to Insect Stings
Allergic reactions to insect stings can be localized where the venom enters the skin. You may have a red, itchy, swollen bump, or more seriously, develop symptoms of anaphylactic shock which include:
- Shortness of breath
- Widespread hives (itchy, red, raised skin bumps)
- Loss of consciousness
- Lowered blood pressure
Pregnant or not, if you notice these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention at an urgent care center or hospital emergency room. Take the insect or spider with you if possible for identification at the medical clinic.
Also, if you know you have an insect allergy with the possibility of anaphylaxis, you should always carry injectable epinephrine (EPIPEN®) with you to be used immediately if an insect stings you.
For less serious allergic reactions, apply a cool compress to the site. Use an over-the-counter calamine lotion or one-percent hydrocortisone cream or ointment applied topically to relieve itching. Do not scratch or dig at the bite as this only increases irritation, itching and the chance of infection.
How to Avoid Insect Stings
These precautions can help everyone who is allergic to insect stings–including pregnant women–avoid the reactions and subsequent problems they can cause.
- Wear light-colored clothing when outdoors
- Avoid all perfumes, scented soaps and laundry additives
- Have your handyman or local pest control company remove all insect nests in gardens, overhangs, outdoor electrical outlets
- Stay indoors at dawn and at dusk when stinging insects are most active
- Cover all food during outdoor picnics
- Stay far away from garbage cans and compost piles/bins
- Admire fragrant flowers from a safe distance
Stinging Insect Allergy Treatment at Oak Brook Allergists
At Oak Brook Allergists in Northeast Illinois, our professional team consists of board-certified physicians, Dr. Raymond Pongonis, Jr., Dr. Wachary Rubin and Dr. David Knysak. They are experts in allergy testing, helping numerous adults and children understand their allergies and how to treat them.
If you are pregnant, or plan to be, and think you have a stinging insect allergy, call us at (630) 574-0460to book a consultation. Additionally, you may request your visit online. See us in Downers Grove, Naperville, Plainfield or Elmhurst. We look forward to helping you get your allergies under control!