Skip to Content

Insect Stings Are Just a Buzzkill for Most Folks

TUESDAY, July 16, 2019 -- Although unwelcome, insect stings pose a serious risk threat to only a small percentage of people, a medical expert says.

"While millions of people suffer insect stings, true allergic reactions occur in a mere 0.4 to 0.8% of children and up to 3% of adults," said Dr. Morissa Ladinsky. She is an associate professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Small local reactions with a raised warm red area that ease within 24 hours after you're zapped are common.

Large local reactions can include an increasingly large, warm and red welt that progresses over one or two days and remains even longer, occasionally with some nausea or vomiting. This may indicate a mild non-life-threatening allergy, she explained in a university news release.

"Wasp stings are infamous for this," Ladinsky said. "Our bodies differ in the level of inflammatory mediators we release to get the tiny drop of toxin out of our system."

In most such cases, anti-inflammatory agents such as topical calamine, Benadryl or hydrocortisone will be sufficient treatment. Oral ibuprofen and Benadryl help as well, according to Ladinsky.

Even homemade remedies can help.

"For those who favor my gran's recipes, mixing a bit of cornstarch with cold water into a paste and covering the area -- this is a winner," Ladinsky said.

A severe life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) includes: rapid swelling of the lips, eyes and ears; dizziness; hives or welts on body areas far from the sting site; a feeling of the throat closing, and difficulty breathing.

"Call 911 immediately if you experience these types of reactions," Ladinsky said. "An allergy visit along with EpiPen ownership will become necessary going forward."

© 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: July 2019

Read this next

Study Probes Links in Asthma, Food Sensitivity and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

MONDAY, Oct. 12, 2020 -- Teens who had asthma and food hypersensitivity when they were younger are at increased risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), researchers report. For...

Plan Ahead to Keep Halloween Safe for Kids With Asthma, Allergies

TUESDAY, Oct. 6, 2020 -- This Halloween may be especially challenging for parents of children with asthma and allergies, as they also have to guard against COVID-19. "Every year...

Fall in the Southeast Means Guarding Against Fire Ant Stings

TUESDAY, Oct. 6, 2020 -- The sting of fire ants can be painful and even deadly -- and the threat rises during fall across the southeastern United States. At this time of year,...