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Insect Sting Allergy Treatment

Call 911 if the person has:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Feelings of faintness or dizziness
  • Hives
  • A swollen tongue
  • A history of severe allergy reaction to insect stings

  • Trouble breathing
  • Feelings of faintness or dizziness
  • Hives
  • A swollen tongue
  • A history of severe allergy reaction to insect stings

If the person does not have severe allergy symptoms:

1. Remove the Stinger

  • Scrape the area with a fingernail or use tweezers to remove it.
  • Don't pinch the stinger -- that can inject more venom.

2. Control Swelling

  • Ice the area.
  • If you were stung on your arm or leg, elevate it.
  • Remove any tight-fitting jewelry from the area of the sting. As it swells, rings or bracelets might be difficult to remove.

3. Treat Symptoms

  • For pain, take an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Do not give aspirin to anyone under age 18.
  • For itchiness, take an antihistamine. You can also apply a mixture of baking soda and water or calamine lotion.

4. Follow-Up

  • It might take 2-5 days for the area to heal. Keep it clean to prevent infection.

 

 

If the person does have severe allergy symptoms (anaphylaxis):

1. Call 911

Seek emergency care if the person has any of these symptoms or a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), even if there are no symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Tightness in the throat or a feeling that the airways are closing
  • Hoarseness or trouble speaking
  • Nausea, abdominal pain, or vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat or pulse
  • Skin that severely itches, tingles, swells, or turns red
  • Anxiety or dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness

2. Inject Epinephrine Immediately

If the person has an anaphylaxis action plan from a doctor for injecting epinephrine and other emergency measures, follow it. Otherwise, if the person carries an epinephrine shot (it's a good idea to always carry two) or one is available:

  • Inject epinephrine if the person is unable to.
  • If the person has a history of anaphylaxis, don't wait for signs of a severe reaction to inject epinephrine.
  • Read and follow patient instructions carefully.
  • Inject epinephrine into outer muscle of the thigh. Avoid injecting into a vein or buttock muscles.
  • Do not inject medicine into hands or feet, which can cause tissue damage. If this happens, notify emergency room staff.
  • The person may need more than one injection if there's no improvement after the first. For an adult, inject again after 10 to 20 minutes. For a child, inject again after 5 to 30 minutes.
  • A person should always go to the ER after an epinephrine injection, even if the symptoms subside.

 

 

3. Do CPR if the Person Stops Breathing

4. Follow-Up

  • Make sure that someone stays with the person for 24 hours after anaphylaxis in case of another attack.
  • Report the reaction to the person's doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on November 07, 2013

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