Medical University of South Carolina Hospital logo
Home |  Video Library | Podcast Library | e-Newsletters | Classes & Events | About Us | News Blog | University & Colleges 
Contact Us | 843-792-1414
  

Patients & Visitors

Medical Services

Maps & Parking

Health Library

Physician Portal

Careers

Online Services
Health Library
Health Topics A to Z
Clinical Trials & Research
Tests & Procedures
Lab Tests & Results
Health Assessment Tools
Symptom Checker
Health e-Newsletters
Podcast Library
Video Library
Health Library
Bookmark Page icon Bookmark |

Print this page icon

|

E-mail icon

Health Library : Allergy and Asthma

 

Allergen: Insect Stings

Insect stings that most commonly cause allergic reactions

Insects that are members of the Hymenoptera family most commonly cause allergic reactions. These include:

  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Hornets
  • Yellow jackets
  • Fire ants

Allergic reactions to insect stings

Usually, the reaction is short-lived, with redness and swelling followed by pain and itching. Generally, the reaction lasts only a few hours, although some may last longer.

For other people, however, allergic reactions to these insect stings can be life-threatening. This severe reaction is a medical emergency that can involve organ systems throughout the body. The reaction is called anaphylaxis and can include severe symptoms such as:

  • Itching and hives over most of the body
  • Swelling of the throat and tongue
  • Difficulty in breathing and tightness in the chest
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Stomach cramps, nausea, or diarrhea
  • Rapid fall in blood pressure
  • Shock
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue

Immediate medical attention is required.

Can insect stings be prevented?

Avoidance of insects is the best preventive measure. Suggestions include:

  • When outdoors, be cautious of drinking from open soft drink cans. Stinging insects are attracted to them, and can crawl inside.
  • Keep food covered when eating outdoors.
  • Avoid sweet-smelling perfumes, hairsprays, and deodorants.
  • Avoid wearing bright-colored clothing with flowery patterns. 
  • Avoid going barefoot, and wear closed-toe shoes when walking in grassy areas.
  • When gardening, watch for nests in trees, shrubs, and flower beds.
  • Other areas in which to use caution: swimming pools, woodpiles, under eaves of houses, and trash containers.

Treatment for insect stings

Specific treatment for insect stings will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the reaction
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the reaction
  • Your opinion or preference

Suggestions for immediate treatment for highly allergic people, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, include:

  • When possible, immediately remove stinger, and scrape over the area with a fingernail. However, do not squeeze the area, which may force the venom into the body.
  • An emergency treatment kit should be kept nearby at all times. Talk with your doctor about what it should include.
  • Seek emergency care as soon as possible.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Allergy & Asthma


 Sources & References

OUR SERVICES

 Find an MUSC Doctor:
 »Dermatology


 Treatment at MUSC:
 »Dermatology Clinic
 »Nose & Sinus Program

 

RELATED INFORMATION

 Tests & Procedures:
 »Sinus X-ray

About This Site   |   Disclaimer   |  Privacy   |   Accessibility   |   Donations   |   Site Map
171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29403 1.843.792.1414 | © 2014 Medical University of South Carolina

mobile web site iconrss feed iconText Messaging iconPodcast Library