Symptoms of an allergic reaction to a bite include local symptoms such as redness, pain, and swelling. Systemic allergic reactions can cause swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, and face, along with chest pain, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. This is called anaphylaxis and is considered a medical emergency. If medical intervention is not sought with approximately 20 minutes, death can occur due to respiratory arrest or shock.
An allergic reaction to a bite can be caused by a spider bite or bee sting. Although the bite of a spider can prove poisonous, bee venom can cause a severe allergic reaction as well. A dog bite can produce an allergic reaction, however, it is more commonly seen with insect bites. In addition, a human bite can also produce an allergic reaction, though the main concern with a human bite is the risk of infection. People who sustain dog or human bite should talk to their doctors about getting a tetanus shot if they have not had one in the past ten years. In addition, antibiotics may be recommended to prevent a potential infection from a bite.
Treatment for an allergic reaction to a bite depends upon how severe it is. If the allergic reaction to a bite is mild, an over-the-counter anti-itch gel may suffice in relieving symptoms, as may the brief application of ice. If the bite becomes painful, taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain. It is important to note, however, that taking acetaminophen will not help to alleviate inflammation caused by a bite, but ibuprofen and aspirin will.
If an allergic reaction to a bite produces severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath and closing of the throat, an injection of epinephrine may need to be given. People who have a history of allergic reaction to insect bites or food allergies sometimes carry epinephrine is a device called an EpiPen®. This medical apparatus holds a pre-measured dose of epinephrine that can counteract the effects of certain toxins and allergens.
Itching is also a common manifestation of an allergic reaction to a bite. Although generally mild, itching due to a mosquito bite can become quite severe. Taking an oral over-the-counter antihistamine can help relieve itching and may even help to reduce swelling and pain. Antihistamines can cause side effects, such as significant drowsiness, dizziness, and lack of coordination, therefore, they should not be taken when driving or operating dangerous machinery.