Insect Sting Allergy Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on July 16, 2023
3 min read

Any of these symptoms or a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), even if there are no symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing or wheezing
  • Tightness in the throat or a feeling that the airways are closing
  • Hives
  • Swelling away from the area of the sting, especially swelling of the face, tongue, or hands
  • Hoarseness or trouble speaking
  • Nauseaabdominal pain, diarrhea, cramps, or vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat or pulse
  • Skin that severely itches, tingles, swells, or turns red
  • Anxiety, feelings of faintness, or dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness

Do not hesitate to inject the epinephrine if you are unsure the symptoms are allergy related. It will not hurt the person and could save their life. 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) do the following:

  • 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. If needed, inject again after 5 to 15 minutes. 
  • Any more than 2 doses of epinephrine should not be given unless it's done under direct medical supervision.
  • A person should always go to the ER after an epinephrine injection, even if the symptoms go away.

Do CPR if the person stops breathing.

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. 

 If someone has multiple stings -- particularly on their head or neck -- it’s best to get medical help.

  • Scrape the area with the edge of a credit card or straight edge object to remove it.
  • Don't pinch the stinger or use tweezers -- that can inject more venom.
  • You may have to pull off fire ants and check carefully that you got them all.


  • 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.
  • It might take 2-5 days for the itching and swelling to subside. Keep the affected area clean to prevent infection.