Stinging Insect Allergy
St. Louis Allergist for Stinging Insect Allergy Treatment
No one likes insect bites, but some of us experience dangerous allergic reactions to bug bites. If you experience a painful insect bite or one that is accompanied by a significant or surprising reaction, consult with a St. Louis allergist. Stinging insect allergies can intensify over time and it is wise to be prepared for the worst.Our allergy doctors in St. Louis can determine if your reaction to a bug bite is the result of an allergy or not, and provide you with prevention methods and effective stinging insect treatments.
When most people are stung by an insect, the site develops redness, swelling and itching. However, some people are actually allergic to insect stings. This means that their immune systems overreact to the venom. If you are insect-allergic, after the first sting, your body produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). If stung again by the same kind of insect, the venom interacts with this specific IgE antibody, triggering the release of substances that cause an allergic reaction. The best place to get allergy help in St. Louis is an allergy clinic; only an allergist can tell you definitively whether your reaction is a normal sensitivity or an allergic reaction to insect stings.
Symptoms of a Severe Insect Bite Allergic Reaction
For a small number of people in St. Louis who have a venom allergy, stings may be life-threatening. This reaction is called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis). Symptoms may include two or more of the following: itching and hives, swelling in the throat or tongue, difficulty breathing, dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea or diarrhea. In severe cases, a rapid fall in blood pressure may result in shock and loss of consciousness.
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and may be fatal. If you have these symptoms after an insect sting, get emergency medical treatment. After this treatment, you should also ask for a referral to a St. Louis allergist to learn how to stay safe in the future. Prevention and preparedness are essential if you suffer from a life-threatening allergic reaction to insect stings.
Identifying Stinging Insects
To avoid stinging insects, it is important to identify them. Each of these stinging insects can be found in St. Louis:
- Yellow jackets‘ nests are made of a paper-maché material and are usually located underground, but can sometimes be found in the walls of frame buildings, cracks in masonry or wood piles.
- Honeybees and bumble bees are non-aggressive and will only sting when provoked. However, Africanized honeybees (AKA “killer bees”) found in the Southwestern U.S are more aggressive and may sting in swarms. Domesticated honey bees live in man-made hives, while wild honey bees live in colonies or “honeycombs” in hollow trees or cavities of buildings in the St. Louis area.
- Paper wasps‘ nests are usually made of a paper-like material that forms a circular comb of cells which opens downward. The nests are often located under eaves, behind shutters, or in shrubs or woodpiles. Many homes in St. Louis have a paper wasp nest in the vicinity.
- Hornets are usually larger than yellow jackets. Their nests are gray or brown, football-shaped and made of a paper material similar to that of yellow jackets’ nests. Hornets’ nests are usually found high above ground on branches of trees, in shrubbery, on gables or in tree hollows.
- Fire ants build nests of dirt in the ground that may be quite tall (18 inches) in the right kinds of soil. Fire ants can be found in St. Louis.
The best way to prevent stings is to stay away! Taking these precautions will reduce your risk of experiencing insect stings in St. Louis:
- Insects are most likely to sting if their homes are disturbed, so it is important to have nests around your home in St. Louis destroyed.
- If flying stinging insects are close by, remain calm and move slowly away. Avoid brightly colored clothing and perfume when outdoors. Wear closed-toe shoes outdoors and avoid going barefoot. Also, avoid loose-fitting garments that can trap insects between material and skin.
- Because the smell of food attracts insects, be careful outdoors when cooking, eating or drinking sweet drinks like soda or juice. Beware of insects inside straws or canned drinks. If you enjoy picnicking during the warmer months in St. Louis, be sure to keep food covered until eaten.
If you do get stung by an insect in St. Louis, a few simple steps can reduce your reaction. If you are unsure whether a bee sting or another insect bite caused an allergic reaction or not, consult with a St. Louis allergy doctor.
If the insect left its stinger in your skin, remove the stinger within 30 seconds to avoid receiving more venom. A quick scrape of your fingernail removes the stinger and sac. Avoid squeezing the sac – this forces more venom through the stinger and into your skin. For all stinging insects, try to remain calm and brush these insects from the skin. Then immediately leave the area.
These steps can help in treating local reactions to insect stings:
- Raise the affected limb and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and pain.
- Gently clean area with soap and water to prevent secondary infections; do not break blisters.
- Use topical steroid ointments or oral antihistamines to relieve itching.
- See your physician if swelling progresses or if the sting site seems infected.
If you are severely insect-allergic, an allergist in St. Louis will prescribe you to carry auto-injectable epinephrine. Learn how and when to self-administer the epinephrine. Contact your St. Louis allergist to replace the device before the labeled expiration date. Remember that epinephrine is a rescue medication only, and you must still have someone take you to an emergency room immediately if you are stung. Those with severe allergies may want to consider wearing a bracelet or necklace that identifies the wearer as having severe allergies.
Consult Your St. Louis Allergist
If you have had a serious reaction to an insect sting or need allergy help in St. Louis, make an appointment with an allergist. With proper testing, your St. Louis allergist can diagnose your allergy and determine the best form of treatment. In many cases, our St. Louis allergy doctors find insect venom allergy shots (immunotherapy) to be very effective. With a proper diagnosis, treatment plan and careful avoidance, people with an insect allergy can feel more confident and enjoy being outdoors in St. Louis.
Healthy Tips for St. Louis Residents with Insect Sting Allergies
- Symptoms of a non-allergic insect sting include redness, swelling and/or itching at the site of the sting.
- Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include itching and hives, swelling in the throat or tongue, difficulty breathing, dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea or diarrhea.
- An allergist in St. Louis is your best resource for diagnosing stinging insect allergy and providing an allergy treatment plan designed to keep you safe and healthy.
- If you have a serious reaction, get emergency medical treatment and then follow-up with an allergy clinic in St. Louis to ensure you have an effective prevention and treatment plan.
St. Louis Allergy Clinic for Adults and Children
Knowledge is power when it comes to stinging insect allergies, according to our St. Louis allergists. Know the insects that live in the St. Louis region, including how to identify their homes and whether they bite. Get a clear diagnosis from a St. Louis allergy doctor following any incidents, and if prescribed epinephrine, be sure to carry a current prescription with you at all times.
Adapted from: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/stinging-insect-allergy