Are You Allergic to Insect Stings?
Treatment if You’re Not Allergic
Wash the stung area with soap and water, then apply an antiseptic.
Apply a soothing ointment, like a hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion, and cover the area with a dry, sterile bandage.
If swelling is a problem, apply an ice pack or cold compress to the area.
Take an over-the-counter oral antihistamine to ease itching, swelling, and hives. Don’t give this medication to children under 2 years old or to pregnant women unless your doctor says it’s OK. (If you’re pregnant, it’s best to talk to your doctor before you take any medicine.)
You can also take an “NSAID” pain reliever such as ibuprofen.
Read the label on any medicines first. Parents of children and people with medical conditions should talk with a pharmacist if they have questions about a medicine's use.
Treatment if You’re Allergic
If you have a severe allergic sting reaction, you’ll need epinephrine, which you can inject yourself before you call 911. Usually, this shot will stop a more severe allergic reaction from happening.
You’ll still need emergency medical care, even if the symptoms seem to stop. You may need to stay overnight at the hospital. If you’ve ever had allergic reactions to an insect sting, carry epinephrine with you wherever you go.
How Can I Avoid Being Stung?
You can’t completely. But these steps make it less likely.
1. Learn to recognize insect nests and avoid them. Yellow jackets nest in the ground in dirt mounds or old logs and walls. Honeybees camp out in beehives. Hornets and wasps make their homes in bushes, trees, and on buildings.
2. Wear shoes and socks when outdoors.
3. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes when in rural or wooded areas.
4. Avoid wearing perfumes or brightly colored clothing. They tend to attract insects.
5. If you have severe allergies, make sure you have someone with you if you hike, boat, swim, golf, or do other things outdoors, just in case.
6. Consider using screens on windows and doors at home. You may also want to use insect repellents when you’re outside.
7. Spray garbage cans regularly with insecticide, and keep the cans covered.
8. Avoid or remove insect-attracting plants and vines growing in and around the home.
Also, if you're severely allergic, always wear identification that lists says you have an allergy. Keep an epinephrine kit on hand in case of an emergency, too. For more information on where to get a MedicAlert bracelet, you can call 800-ID-ALERT.