Do you have bugbite allergies?
Bugbite allergies can really put a damper on your summer fun. Warm weather is prime time for bugs and unfortunately the occasional bite or sting. Take steps to minimize your risk of getting a bugbite and learn how to tell if you are allergic and what to do if you think you're having an allergic reaction.
What are insect bite and sting allergies?
When biting and stinging insects puncture your skin your body goes into defense mode. For most people this means localized redness itching and swelling. For people with bugbite allergies however the reaction can be much more serious. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America stinging insects like bees and wasps along with biting insects like mosquitoes bedbugs and fleas can all cause an allergic reaction. While a little redness and swelling at the site of the bite are part of a normal reaction the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology says that the following symptoms suggest that you may have an allergy:
- Wheezing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Swollen throat
- Fainting or light-headedness
These symptoms can become very serious and add up to a potentially deadly reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment.
When should I see a doctor?
In most cases mild reactions to mosquito bites and beestings will resolve on their own in a few days. If symptoms don't begin to fade make an appointment with your doctor. If you're experiencing a lot of discomfort you should consider going to a clinic like the Reid Ready Care Clinic or Reid Allergy.
According to the Mayo Clinic people who have experienced a severe reaction to a beesting have a 30 to 60 percent chance of experiencing anaphylaxis if they're stung again. So if you experience a moderate to severe reaction to a bugbite or beesting you should see your doctor and share your concerns. Your doctor might arrange for you to have allergy testing to discover bugbite allergies.
If you've been in a swarm of bees and have many stings you should quickly seek medical care. Call 911 immediately if you experience symptoms of anaphylaxis like extreme swelling or difficulty breathing.
How are sting and bite allergies treated?
If your doctor or allergist determines you have an allergy to insect bites there are a few courses of action they might recommend. Treatment can include allergen immunotherapy which gradually exposes you to the allergen and makes it less likely that you'll experience a severe reaction to it in the future.
Your doctor may also prescribe you an epinephrine auto-injection pen. According to MedLine Plus this emergency treatment for allergic reactions can save your life if you experience anaphylaxis. Keep in mind though that this is not a substitute for medical attention - you should still make sure to see a healthcare provider after you've had the injection.
People without serious bugbite allergies might consider taking an over-the-counter antihistamine like Benadryl Claritin or Allegra after a bugbite or beesting. These are powerful home treatments for the itching and swelling caused by bugbites according to the University of Washington.
How do I prevent bugbites and beestings?
It can seem hard to avoid bugs when you're spending time outdoors but taking a few precautions can help prevent bites and stings.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants in lighter colors and closed-toe shoes.
- Use insect repellent containing DEET.
- According to this New York Times article bees will feed on processed sugars so pay careful attention when drinking sweet beverages like soda outdoors - keep an eye out for bees on your can or glass.
- As the Centers for Disease Control notes standing water helps mosquitoes breed. Clean kids' pools and birdbaths regularly unclog gutters and get rid of old tires.
Bugbite allergies can seem scary but arming yourself with knowledge and taking preventative steps to minimize your exposure is worth a lot. Knowing what to do and having a plan in case you're bitten or stung can make your time outside more enjoyable.