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Insect Allergy

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What is an insect allergy?

An insect allergy is an allergy to the sting or bite of certain insects. Sometimes these reactions can be life threatening. The most common insects that people can be allergic to are:

  • Honey Bees
  • Yellow Jackets
  • Hornets
  • Wasps
  • Fire Ants

Did you know? Swelling, pain, or redness that is right around the sting site is a normal reaction. It typically goes away in 1-2 hours. This does not mean that you are allergic to insects. Applying ice and taking pain relievers (such as Advil or Motrin) can help with the pain. An antihistamine (such as Zyrtec or Benadryl) can help with the itching.


What are the symptoms of a serious allergic reaction?

  • Hives- red, raised patches of skin that are very itchy
  • Swelling of the face
  • Feeling of tightness in the chest or throat
  • Wheezing (sounds like a whistle sound in the chest) or trouble breathing
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach pains
  • Feeling dizzy or passing out
  • Insect allergies can result in death

Did you know? Skin testing to check for an insect allergy is done after having a reaction to a sting! Most children under 16 years of age who only develop hives after being stung do not need to be tested, since hives do not typically lead to more serious reactions. However always ask your doctor if this applies to you. We also do not skin test to insect allergies because other family members are allergic.


How do you treat insect allergy?

  • Auto injectable epinephrine (Epipen, AuviQ, Adreniclick). This medicine helps stop the symptoms of an allergic reaction. It is important to carry 2 injectors with you at all times. If you are stung, USE THE EPINEPHRINE FIRST and THEN CALL 911!
  • Allergy shots. These shots will make you less likely to have a serious reaction if you get stung again. They are given in an allergy clinic. You are typically on allergy shots for 5 years. You will still need to carry the epinephrine at all times.

How do I lower my chances of being stung?

  • Don’t walk outside without closed- toe shoes
  • Keep food and drinks covered when outside. Clean any spills quickly.
  • Stay calm and slowly back away if there is a stinging insect. Do not wave your arms or try to swat them.
  • Do not mow the grass or prune a hedge as there may be a nest.
  • Call a pest control professional if there is a nest near your home. Do not try to remove it yourself.

Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 11/2018

(757) 668-7000