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Allergies Health Center

Other Stinging Insects

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If you’re allergic to bee stings, you may also be allergic to yellow jackets, wasps, and hornets.

In severe allergic reactions, having symptoms like these can be life-threatening:

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  • Itching and hives
  • Swelling of your throat or tongue
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea or diarrhea

If you have these symptoms, carry two Auvi-Q or Epi-Pens (epinephrine shots) with you if your doctor has prescribed them. Then call 911 immediately. You still need to go to the hospital, even if the shot worked.

If you have mild swelling at the sting site but are otherwise OK, start treatment on your own.

  • Put ice on the bite or sting off and on (15 minutes on, 15 minutes off). Use a towel. Don’t put ice directly on your skin and don’t use heat.
  • Elevate the area of the bite or sting to reduce swelling.
  • Take an antihistamine and use a hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching.

 

Reducing Your Risk

Ask your doctor if you should carry an epinephrine shot with you at all times. Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.

Also talk to your doctor about allergy shots, or immunotherapy. It’s a way to very slowly get your body used to an allergen – in this case, insect venom – so you won’t have as bad a reaction if you’re stung again.

To prevent future stings:

  • Avoid wearing sandals or walking barefoot in the grass.
  • Don’t swat at bugs. Gently brush them away or wait for them to leave on their own.
  • Don’t drink from open soda or cans. They attract insects.
  • Cover outdoor garbage cans with tightly fitting lids.
  • Avoid sweet-smelling perfumes and colognes and brightly colored clothing, which attract insects.
  • Be careful when doing yard work. Wear socks and shoes and gloves.
  • Use screens on doors and windows.
  • Keep car windows closed when driving.
  • Wear long pants and long sleeves outdoors. Reduce the amount of exposed skin.
  • Have an exterminator check and treat your yard for stinging pests.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on October 16, 2014

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