Allergy: Insect Sting (cont.)
Insect Sting Allergy Symptoms
Most insect stings cause some pain and swelling in the area of the sting, called a local reaction.
- People who are allergic to bee stings or who have been stung many times may react more dramatically.
- A severe local reaction may lead to pain and swelling that increase over the next few hours and becoming very uncomfortable. This does not constitute an anaphylactic reaction. The reaction must involve at least 2 of your body's organ systems (such as lungs and heart) to qualify as an anaphylactic reaction.
- Although most local reactions are not serious, if they are near the face or neck, swelling can quickly block the airway and cause serious problems.
Fire ant stings
- Fire ant stings cause a reaction in almost everyone.
- Itchy hives usually form at the site immediately and recede within an hour.
- A small blister forms at each site within 4 hours.
- Within 8-24 hours, a small sore with pus forms at each sting site. The area around the sores may feel burning and itchy. The pus does not mean the sore is infected.
- The sores rupture within 72 hours. The itching, pain, and redness may last for several days but should improve gradually.
- Worsening redness, pain, swelling, and warmth may signal an infection at the site. If this occurs, see your health care provider right away.
Symptoms over the entire body are always a concern because they may signal an anaphylactic reaction. If these reactions progress, they may lead to death, sometimes within a matter of minutes. These reactions may include the following:
- Hives (swollen bumps on the skin)
- Significant swelling over major body parts - face, head, neck, arms/hands, legs/feet
- Difficulty breathing, wheezing, or the feeling that the throat is closing
- Dizziness or fainting
- Chest pain or racing heartbeat
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
The dizziness and fainting are due to a dangerously low blood pressure. This condition is known as "shock," and anaphylaxis is often called anaphylactic shock.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/28/2014
Mary Buechler, MD, Deaconess-Glover
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Must Read Articles Related to Allergy: Insect Sting
Some allergens are simply impossible to avoid. You cannot live a normal life and completely avoid pollen, dust mites, mold spores, and certain other common trig...learn more >>
Severe Allergic Reaction (Anaphylactic Shock)
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that occurs rapidly and causes a life-threatening response involving the whole body. Because the reaction is really an...learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Allergy: Insect Sting: