Allergy Shots for Insect Stings

If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to an insect sting, talk to your doctor about treatments that can help prevent it from happening again.

One such preventive treatment may be allergy shots. Allergy shots for insect stings put tiny amounts of the allergen (you may hear it called “insect venom”) into your body over time. Your body gets used to the allergen, and if you get stung again, you won’t have such a bad reaction.

If allergy shots are right for you, your doctor will first test to find out which insects you’re allergic to. Then you’ll typically get the shots once or twice a week. The dose will go up slightly over time until you reach a maintenance dose, usually in about 3 to 6 months.

You’ll get longer stretches of time between doses in the maintenance phase -- about once or twice a month for 3-5 years, although some people need to keep taking shots for longer.

For most people, allergy shots are safe and work well. You may have some redness and warmth at the injection site. You could also have:

In rare cases, allergy shots can cause a more serious or even life-threatening reaction. For that reason, you’ll get your shots at your doctor’s office.

Allergy shots aren’t for everyone. If you’ve never had a serious allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting, you probably don’t need them for an insect allergy. They may be more risky for people with heart or lung disease or who take certain medications. Be sure to tell your allergist about your health and any medicines you take, so you can decide if allergy shots are right for you.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 1, 2016



American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)."

National Library of Medicine Daily Med: "Instructions and dosage for schedule for allergenic extracts hymenoptera venom products."

The Asthma Center Education and Research Fund: "Bugging Out: An examination of insect-sting anaphylaxis." 

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