Help! Do I Have a Bee Allergy?
It’s summertime. It’s the season for parties, pools, and fun. One guest who didn’t get invited to that party? Bees.
That’s right, ‘tis the season for all kinds of insects, including bees. If you’re allergic to the striped critters, summer requires an extra level of precaution.
But, what if you’re not sure if you have an allergy? For those folks, read on. (And if you have a bee allergy, we have info for you, too.)
How Do I Know?
After you get a bee sting, it’s totally normal to have itching, redness, and swelling around the site of the sting. Typically, it hurts for a few hours, then it feels better. Rarely, someone who has never experienced an allergic reaction can have life-threatening symptoms.
Seek medical attention if you experience the following:
• Itching, hives, or swelling over large portions of your body, not just the site of the sting
• Swelling of the face, throat or tongue
• Difficulty breathing
• Stomach cramps
• Nausea or diarrhea
• Loss of consciousness
• If you were stung by a swarm of bees
If you already know that you have a bee allergy, use an epinephrine shot (Auvi-Q or Epi-Pen). Even if the shot seems to do the trick, call 911. You will still need medical attention.
For those who know they have a bee allergy, talk to your allergist about immunotherapy. With immunotherapy, your doctor can give you extremely small doses of the allergen. While your allergy won’t completely go away, this therapy will help make your reaction less severe if you get stung by a bee again. Also, consider wearing a medical alert necklace or bracelet to alert medical personnel to your allergy.
If you don’t have a bee allergy, stings can still be uncomfortable. Here’s how to feel better in no time:
• Ice the sting off and on (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off), but don’t put ice directly on the skin.
• As with any other injury, raise the affected area to reduce the swelling. Raise the area of the sting to reduce swelling.
• To make you more comfortable, take an antihistamine and use a hydrocortisone cream to ease swelling and itching.
• The redness and swelling should go away within 5-10 days.
Prevention Is Key
The best way to avoid bee stings? Avoid the bees! Ok, we know that sounds obvious, but here are some ways to reduce your chances of getting stung.
• Don’t wear sandals in the grass, and definitely don’t go barefoot. Try to wear close-toed shoes.
• If a bee approaches you, gently brush them away. Or, you can just wait for them to wander away on their own.
• Avoid drinking from open soda cans. Bees love soft drinks, or any sugary drink.
• Having a party? Keep tight lids on your food and any garbage cans.
• If you’re doing yard work, wear socks, shoes, and gloves. Also, even if it’s hot outside, wear long sleeves and pants. You never know where a bee might be hiding.
• When you plan to be outside, avoid wearing perfume. It attracts bugs, especially bees.
• Make sure all open doors and windows have screens in them.
• Keep car windows closed.
• Avoid wearing bright colors outside. They can attract bees, too!
If you’re still not sure if you have a bee allergy, contact us for an appointment. Dr. Seyerle or Dr. Mathur can assess your situation and determine if you have an allergy. Go here if you’d like to make an appointment. Enjoy the rest of your summer!