Everyone experiences some redness, stinging and swelling if they are bitten or stung by an insect. Depending on the type and size of the insect, this can be extremely small or cause a large whelp. So, how do you know if the reaction you’re having after an insect sting is normal or a hypersensitivity?
Types of Insect Bite Reactions
Most people just experience a small amount of redness and swelling at the site, along with some possible stinging or burning. These symptoms usually resolve quickly and do not require medication or other treatment. If anything is required, it’s usually just an over-the-counter antihistamine.
Large Local Reactions
A slightly more severe reaction is known as a large local reaction. Large local reactions are characterized by swelling that extends far beyond the sting site. For example, if an insect stings you on the forearm and your entire arm swells up, you’re probably having a large local reaction. Luckily for you, these types of reactions are, in general, not considered dangerous, even though they take a little longer to go away. An allergist may give you treatment to help these reactions resolve more quickly.
If you are allergic to an insect’s sting, you’ll immediately notice pain, redness, swelling, stinging, itching, and burning where you were bitten. However, allergies to insects can also cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that causes the following symptoms and needs to be treated immediately:
- Breathing problems
- Swelling in the face, mouth, and/or throat
- Rash Hives or itching all over the body
- A sudden drop in blood pressure
- Trouble swallowing
- Gastrointestinal cramps
- Nausea and/or vomiting
If you experience any of the symptoms of anaphylaxis, seek emergency medical treatment as quickly as possible. A certified allergist can prescribe immediate and preventative treatment (allergen immunotherapy) for severe allergic reactions to insect stings.
You Won’t Know the First Time
Something that many do not know about insect allergic reactions is that you won’t have a severe allergic reaction the first time you get stung by the particular insect you are allergic to. This is because, before the first encounter, your body hasn’t yet created antibodies for the insect’s venom. After the first bite, your immune system then identifies the venom as foreign and creates antibodies. The second time, your immune system immediately deploys an army of antibodies to eradicate it, causing what we see as symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Know the Most Likely Culprits
Most insects are harmless and don’t cause humans any type of allergic reaction, but there are a few that seem to be repeat offenders. Stay clear of the insects below and you’ll dramatically reduce your chance of experiencing a serious allergic reaction:
- Fire ants
Now, that’s a pretty difficult list to avoid here in the southern United States, so it’s important to take preventative measures to keep these pests off of your property and away from your family. There are many safe, environmentally conscious ways to deal with these and other types of insects. Consult with a local “green” pest control company for options.
Insect Sting Allergy Treatment in Tampa Bay
If you have a known insect allergy and live in Tampa Bay, trust your care to the experts at Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Associates of Tampa Bay. We offer a variety of options to treat insect allergy attacks and prevent them from recurring. Call (813) 971-9743 or request an appointment online to take control of your life back from everyday allergy symptoms today!