Life-Threatening Allergies to Biting or Stinging Insects
Most people stung or bitten by an insect may experience swelling, pain and redness that may persist for up to a week and usually gets better without treatment. However, for those who are allergic to insect stings or bites, the situation may become life-threatening.
Potentially life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to stinging insects such as bees, wasps and ants can occur in up to 0.8% of children and 3% of adults. If you’re one of those affected, consider taking these precautions:
- When you go outside, avoid wearing brightly colored clothing or using sweet-smelling lotions, perfumes and shampoos
- Always wear shoes
- If you’re eating, keep your food and trash tightly sealed
- If your activity might expose you to insects or their nests (gardening or hiking, for instance), wear pants and long-sleeved shirts
Not all stings can be avoided, so those with insect allergies should carry self-injectable epinephrine such as the EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injector, particularly when outdoors.
People with insect allergies can be treated with standardized insect injections (immunotherapy), which may provide long-term protection against insect stings. However, not everyone treated this way remains tolerant to insect stings or bites for life. You may still need to carry an EpiPen 2-Pak.
In case of anaphylaxis triggered by insect bites or stings, inject the health care professional-prescribed EpiPen or EpiPen Jr immediately and seek emergency medical attention.