Other Stinging Insects

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

Symptoms of a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction may include:

If you have these, use your epinephrine injector (Adrenaclick, Auvi-Q, EpiPen, or Symjepi) if your doctor has prescribed it. Always carry two with you. After you take the shot, or if you haven’t been prescribed one, call 911 immediately. You still need to go to the hospital, even if you took a shot and it worked.

If you have mild swelling where you were stung but are otherwise OK, you can start treatment on your own.

  • Wrap ice in a towel and put it on the sting or bite for 15 minutes. Then take it off for 15 minutes. Repeat. 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 help relieve itching.

 

Ways to Reduce Your Risk

Ask your doctor if you should carry an epinephrine shot with you at all times. Follow his instructions carefully.

Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.

Talk to your doctor about allergy shots, also called 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 stings:

  • Don't wear sandals or walk 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 bottles 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, 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 William Blahd, MD on July 06, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: "Fire Ant Sting Allergy," "How Can I Avoid Insect Stings?"

North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: "Beekeeping."

University of Oklahoma Police Department: "Oklahoma’s Perilous Partners."

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