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Insect Allergies

Insect allergies are on the rise, which is bad news considering insect stings are one of the top causes of life-threatening, anaphylactic reactions. Richard Herrscher, MD, and Maryam Saifi, MD at AIR Care often recommends venom immunotherapy to prevent severe reactions from future insect stings. To learn more about the treatments available for an insect allergy, contact us. Call our office today Dallas 214-373-1773 or Plano 972-473-7544 to schedule an appointment.

Insect Allergies Q & A

What should I know about a stinging insect allergy?

Most stinging insect allergies are caused by:

  • Honey bees
  • Hornets
  • Wasps
  • Yellowjackets
  • Fire ants

When these insects sting, they inject venom that causes a localized reaction for most people; others develop a strong allergic reaction.

What symptoms develop following an insect sting?

Virtually everyone has a reaction to an insect sting. It’s normal to experience pain, slight swelling, and redness that’s confined to the sting site. If you have an allergic response, however, you’ll have a large local reaction that causes swelling beyond the area of the sting. 

For example, a sting on your forearm may cause the entire arm to swell, or a sting on your foot may cause swelling up to your knee. When you have a large local reaction, it’s important to schedule an appointment at AIR Care for an allergy evaluation. 

Reactions to stinging ants are different from bees, hornets, and wasps. Stinging ants cause an itchy lump at the sting site, which develops a blister in about four hours. When the blister heals, it may leave a scar. Additionally, if the blister breaks, you have a high risk of developing an infection.

Do stinging insects cause an anaphylactic reaction?

Stinging insects are one of the most common causes of anaphylactic reactions. When this occurs, you have a body-wide response to the venom, causing:

  • Hives, itching, and swelling in areas other than the sting site
  • Abdominal cramping, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea
  • Chest tightness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your tongue or throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires an immediate shot of epinephrine and emergency medical attention.

What other types of insects can cause an allergy?

You can develop allergies to other insects in your environment, including mosquitoes, bedbugs, and fleas. If you’re allergic to these insects, your localized reaction is larger and itchier than the normal reaction. You may also develop bruising or hives. Though uncommon, anaphylaxis is possible.

How are insect allergies treated?

You’ll get relief from your immediate symptoms with oral antihistamines and topical treatments such as hydrocortisone or calamine lotion. You’ll also undergo a skin-prick test, intradermal test, or blood test to accurately identify the insect causing your allergy. 

With the potential for a severe reaction, Dr. Herrscher and Dr. Saifi often recommend venom immunotherapy to desensitize your immune system and prescribes an EpiPenⓇ so you’re prepared to give yourself a shot of epinephrine. 

To get help with insect allergies, call AIR Care.