Insect Sting Allergies: What You Should Know

insect sting allergies

Insect Sting Allergies: What You Should Know


Insect sting allergies can be painful on the skin, often causing redness, swelling, and irritation. However, those with insect sting allergies can experience more severe symptoms that can cause an immune system reaction within the body. It’s important to understand different types of reactions to determine if you need to pay a visit to your allergist.


Mild versus Severe Reactions

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction include:

  • Pain in the affected area
  • Redness or pimple-like spots
  • Mild swelling
  • Hot to the touch
  • Skin itching


For mild insect sting allergies, apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to the affected area and cover it with a gauze bandage. If stung by a bee, remove the stinger immediately. It’s important not to remove the stinger with tweezers or pull on it, as this can release more venom into the skin. Scrape the stinger with a stiff object like a card or your fingernail.


A severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic reaction) is more serious and can be life-threatening. Symptoms include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling of the face, throat, mouth, or tongue
  • Hives on the entire body
  • Wheezing and difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea


In the event of a severe allergic reaction, administration of epinephrine is needed before calling 911. The shot will usually help reduce the symptoms of a severe insect allergy, but emergency medical care will still be needed.


Common Insect Allergies

There are two types of insects that can cause an allergic reaction; stinging and biting insects. Some common stinging insects include bees, wasps, hornets, yellow-jackets, and fire ants. When these insects sting, they inject a small amount of venom into the skin. Biting insects include mosquitoes, fleas, bed bugs, ticks, and some varieties of flies. These insects do not contain venom but, when biting, will inject anti-coagulant saliva so they can feed on blood. It’s important to receive allergy testing to know which insects trigger a reaction.


Tips for Avoiding Insects

Although it’s impossible to completely prevent insect stings or bites, knowing where these insects are located and wearing the appropriate clothing can help reduce your chances of a sting or bite. Stinging insects are most active in late spring, summer, and early fall. Unfortunately, insect repellant will not work at deterring these insects, so avoiding a nest or gathering is best. Yellowjackets, wasps, and bees are often found in walls, bushes, trees, or corners in buildings. When dining outside, keep trash picked up and stored away to avoid attracting these insects.

Biting insects can be repelled by various insect repellants. Avoid wearing open-toed shoes in grassy areas and wear long sleeves to cover your arms. Use insecticide for fire ant hills and to treat the yard for other biting insects.


Visit McGovern for Insect Allergy Care

If you need help managing insect sting allergies, the board-certified allergists at McGovern Allergy can help! Located in Bellaire, Texas, their experienced allergy team can help formulate a treatment plan to manage your insect allergies. Call 713-661-1444 to schedule an appointment or click the link to request one online.