Allergy: Insect Sting
Insect Sting Allergy Overview
Several insects belonging to the class Hymenoptera are capable of injecting venom into humans and animals. These insects include honeybees, bumble bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, and fire ants.
All of these insects are currently found in the United States as well as in most other land areas of the globe. Their venom, which they use to kill or paralyze other insects, is composed of proteins and other substances. It is proteins in the venom that cause allergic reactions in people.
Not everyone is allergic to stinging insect venom. In people who are not allergic, the venom causes only redness, itching, and mild pain and swelling at the site of the bite. Cleaning the area and applying ice are enough to relieve the symptoms.
Even people who are allergic to the venom usually have only mild symptoms, although the swelling may extend beyond the area right around the sting. People with allergy may have a more serious reaction, called an anaphylactic reaction.
Insect Sting Allergy Causes
An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system of the body overreacts to an "invader" such as insect venom (the allergen). This overreaction is sometimes referred to as a hypersensitivity reaction.
The white blood cells produce an antibody to the protein in the venom.
Ants, bees, and wasps have a stinger or venom sac and gland on their tail that they use to inject venom.
An anaphylactic reaction does not usually occur on the first sting.
Insect venom is used to treat certain medical conditions.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/28/2014
Paul A Janson, MD
Mary Buechler, MD, Deaconess-Glover
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Richard Harrigan, MD
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