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Do I Have a Stinging Insect or Bee Allergy?

We love summertime for many reasons – parties, pools, and outdoor fun. However, one group of guests keeps people on edge this time of year – bees and other stinging insects.

With the warmer weather and moisture from the previous spring months, summertime requires extra precaution if you have a bee allergy or are allergic to other stinging insects.

Unless you’ve been tested for a stinging insect or bee allergy or have been stung by one, you most likely don’t know if you’re allergic or not. Luckily, we’ve got the full scoop on what a bee allergy or allergy to any stinging insect looks like.

Symptoms of a Bee Allergy or Other Stinging Insect Allergy

Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction are unique to each person. If you get stung by a bee before confirming whether you have a bee allergy, you should know that there are symptoms to be expected, including itching, redness, and swelling around the site of the sting. Typically, it hurts for a few hours and then feels better.

An allergic reaction, on the other hand, involves non-local reactions, including:

  • 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
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea or diarrhea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • If you were stung by a swarm of bees

Relief After a Bee Sting or Other Insect Sting

If you get stung and already know that you have an insect or bee allergy, use an epinephrine shot (Auvi-Q or Epi-Pen). Even if the shot provides relief, you will still need medical attention.

Insect stings can still be uncomfortable, even if you don’t have a bee allergy. Here are some tips for finding relief:

• 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 area of the sting to reduce the 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 and other insect stings is to avoid bees and other insects!

Here are some ways to reduce your chances of getting stung.

• Don’t wear sandals on the grass, and don’t go barefoot. Try to wear closed-toed shoes.
• If a bee or other stinging insect approaches you, gently brush them away. You can also wait for it to wander on its own.
• Avoid drinking from open soda cans. Bees love sugary drinks.
• 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, wear long sleeves and pants even if it’s hot outside. You never know where a bee or other stinging insect 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!

How to Know If You Have a Bee Allergy or Other Stinging Insect Allergy and What to Do Next

If you’re unsure if you have a bee allergy or other stinging insect allergy and don’t want to wait until you get stung to find out, contact us for an appointment. We can assess your situation and determine if you have an allergy.

Once you know you’re allergic, you can also talk to us about preventative 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 again. Also, consider wearing a medical alert necklace or bracelet to alert medical personnel to your allergy.

If you’re still curious, there is a lot of information about bee allergies, symptoms, testing, and treatment on this page at AllerVie.com,

Please contact us directly with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

This post is an updated version of a previous post.