How Do I Treat an Allergic Reaction to an Insect Bite?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 26 May 2019
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If you or someone you know develops an allergic reaction to an insect bite, it is important to watch out for symptoms of a severe reaction, which may require medical attention. Such symptoms may include facial swelling, upset stomach, and breathing problems. If you suspect a severe reaction, call for an ambulance at once to get medical treatment for yourself or the other person. In situations where the allergy sufferer has an allergy medication auto-injector handy, use the injector while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. It is typically sufficient to treat a mild allergic reaction to an insect bite with over-the-counter topical creams and oral antihistamines.

While many people experience bug bites as a minor annoyance, it is possible for someone to have a severe and even deadly allergic reaction to an insect bite. This is why it is vital to monitor a person's condition after a bug bite. It is also important to take steps to prevent additional bites that may trigger a severe reaction even in those who are not normally sensitive to insect bites. When a person has been stung by a bee or bitten by a mosquito, he or she should be encouraged to leave the area where the attack occurred and to use insect repellent to prevent further attacks.


When confronted with a serious allergic reaction to an insect bite, it is important to take action immediately. Call for help and begin treatment while waiting for emergency personnel to show up. Use an epinephrine injector if the sting victim has one. Keep in mind, though, that using the injector is not a substitute for professional medical care, so you should still call for an ambulance or seek emergency medical care immediately. Do what you can to keep the victim comfortable and breathing: Keep his feet elevated above his head, and turn him onto his side if he begins to vomit.

Appropriately treating a mild allergic reaction to an insect bite depends, in part, on the type of insect that bit or stung the victim. If the victim is stung by a bee or wasp, remove the insect's stinger by scraping away the stinger with the edge of a driver's license, credit card, or fingernail. It is important to not squeeze the stinger, as this can inject the sting victim with additional venom. Regardless of the the type of insect bite, you can reduce discomfort by cleaning the bite or sting area with soap and water and then applying a topical cream to ease any itching. In many cases, over-the-counter painkillers and antihistamines can manage swelling and pain, though you should ask the bite victim first if he or she can safely take these medications.



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