What to Do About an Insect Sting

Thankfully, most of the insects found in Ohio only lash out in self-defense. Even so, their stings can cause a significant reaction that may make life miserable for a few hours to several days. And if you have a stinging insect allergy, the venom can trigger a dangerous immune response that leaves you struggling to breathe.

Our specialists at Premier Allergy & Asthma offer outstanding care for allergies, asthma, and immunodeficiency disorders from 10 convenient office locations across Ohio. Our team’s goal is to provide testing, treatment, and education that’s focused on helping you live your fullest life possible.

Here’s how to prevent an insect sting from spoiling your warm weather fun.

Avoid them when you can

Part of our focus here at Premier Allergy & Asthma is helping people with allergies lead active and fulfilling lives. So we don’t recommend you hide indoors when stinging insect season starts.

Instead, we suggest you identify those that sting, learn their habits, and avoid them when you can. Walking around rather than through a patch of clover, for instance, can spare you the sting of a honeybee focused on gathering pollen for its hive.

The most common stinging insects are:

Note that honeybees, which die afterward, may leave their stinger behind. Other bees and wasps don’t lose their stinger and can sting multiple times in one encounter.

It’s important to note that other insects can deliver a bite. However, these tiny militants reside in a different category than stinging insects because they consider humans a handy addition to their diet and rarely cause severe reactions.

Biting insects include:

Ticks and their arachnid cousins (spiders) also deliver a bite that may cause serious illnesses, such as tick-related Lyme disease, but aren’t classified as insects.

Base your care on symptoms

Most people have mild reactions to insect stings. These typically occur locally (at or near the sting site) and include:

A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) involves multiple body systems and may include symptoms such as:

Anaphylaxis linked to stinging insects is most often triggered by bee and wasp allergies and is a medical emergency that can quickly become life-threatening. The symptoms typically begin within a few minutes of the sting but can occur several hours later.

If you have a stinging insect allergy, you probably have an epinephrine autoinjector to use during an emergency. The device is about the size of a pen and should be carried with you whenever you venture outdoors.

First aid for stings

Move away from the area in which you were stung, if possible, to help avoid further stings. In the case of a severe reaction, call 911 immediately.

For milder reactions:

Reduce itching by applying over-the-counter products such as calamine lotion or 1% hydrocortisone cream or take an oral antihistamine like Benadryl as directed.

Do not remove a honeybee stinger with tweezers since this can squeeze more venom into the site. Instead, use a credit card or similar item to lightly scrape the stinger away.

For a severe allergic reaction or multiple stings delivered via an encounter with a nest or swarm of insects:

If you’re concerned about a possible stinging insect allergy or would like further guidance regarding allergy testing and treatment, schedule a visit with us at Premier Allergy & Asthma today.

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