Some individuals develop an allergic reaction after sustaining an insect sting. In most cases, a reaction involves some pain, swelling, itchiness and redness around the site of the sting.
In some cases, an allergic reaction arises if the immune system responds to the allergens after being stung. Generally, an individual will not end up with a severe reaction on their initial insect sting. However, even if the initial reaction to an insect sting is minor, future reactions if stung again might be severe or even deadly.
Some of the common stinging insects that can instigate an allergic reaction in some individuals include fire ants, wasps, hornets, bees and yellow jackets.
What are the signs?
The usual indications of an allergic reaction to an insect sting ranges from minor to severe.
- Redness, pain and swelling around the site of the insect sting
For a large localized reaction, it triggers the same symptoms as a mild reaction along with swelling and redness that affects the entire extremity or wide part in the body and swelling that continues to worsen for up to 48 hours.
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Swollen tongue, throat or other body parts
- Anaphylaxis or severe reaction that requires medical attention which is marked by difficulty breathing, confusion and other life-threatening symptoms.
How to deal with an insect sting reaction
In case a severe reaction to an insect sting occurs, provide a shot of injectable epinephrine if available. Once a shot is given, call for emergency assistance or bring the individual to the nearest emergency department for further care.
For a mild or large localized reaction to an insect sting, it can be treated at home with the following:
- Apply an ice pack to lessen the swelling. If possible, raise the affected limb on cushions or pillows.
- An over-the-counter pain medication can be given.
- For the itchiness, an antihistamine can be provided.