Allergic reactions to flying stinging insects -honeybees, hornets, wasps and yellow jackets – are relatively common. The severity of an insect sting reaction varies from person to person. A normal reaction will result in pain, swelling and redness confined to the sting site. A large local reaction occurs in 10-15%, and will result in swelling that extends beyond the sting site. For example, a sting on the forearm could result in the entire arm swelling twice its normal size. Although alarming in appearance, this condition is not dangerous and is often treated the same as a normal reaction. The rarest but most severe sting reaction, called anaphylaxis, occurs in about one half % of children and 3% of adults who are stung.
If you are referred to MLA for evaluation of an insect sting, a careful history will be obtained. Based on this, allergy testing may be performed likely with a skin test, but sometimes through a blood test. As the skin testing for a stinging insect reaction is involved, this will be performed a t a separate visit. Based on your history and the results of the testing your physician will be able to recommend the best intervention for you.
For those experiencing a severe sting reaction this may include allergy immunotherapy – “desensitization” – as well as self-injectable epinephrine (EpiPen®) and MedicAlert® identification.