Insect Venom Allergy

Most people are not truly allergic to insect stings. Knowing the difference between an allergic response and a normal response to the pain of the sting can be helpful. In the United States, most insect stings are caused by wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, honeybees, and fire ants. A typical reaction includes pain and swelling at the site of the sting. Washing with soap and water and applying ice to help with swelling should do the trick. If additional symptoms are present, such as swelling outside of the site of the sting, respiratory issues, or vomiting, additional medical care will be needed.

Symptoms of insect sting allergies (also know as venom allergies) can include:

  • pain
  • redness
  • swelling
  • flushing
  • hives
  • itching
  • cramping or vomiting
  • difficulty breathing
  • anaphylaxis

If you have a known insect sting allergy, avoiding the insects will be the best option. Immediately injecting epinephrine is very important if signs of anaphylaxis are present. You may also consider allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy to help reduce the reaction.

We can diagnose an insect venom allergy in our clinic with a detailed medical history and potentially a skin-prick test. The long term treatment for insect sting allergies is venom immunotherapy. This is highly effective when performed by a board-certified allergist and can prevent future reactions to an insect sting. This immunotherapy involves an increasing dose of the venom administered to decrease a patient’s sensitivity to the venom.