Despite the fact that acute allergic reactions do not occur so often, nevertheless, in 10 minutes they can lead to shock, cardiac arrest and loss of consciousness. A similar reaction that threatens a person’s life can occur in minutes after being bitten. If an acute allergic reaction occurs, you should immediately call a doctor.
Symptoms of an acute allergic reaction (anaphylactic reaction) may include one or more of the following:
- Labored breathing
- Urticaria, manifested in the form of a red itchy rash and extending beyond the bite site
- Swelling of the face, throat, or mouth
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Restlessness, anxiety
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness or sharp drop in blood pressure
A mild allergic reaction to an insect sting can cause one or more of the symptoms listed below:
- Slight swelling
- Increased bite temperature
If a person has an allergic reaction to an insect bite, the likelihood that it will repeat or appear stronger with the next bite is 60%.
Bees, wasps, hornets and fire ants are insects whose bites most often cause an allergic reaction. However, most people are not allergic to insect bites and can be confused with the usual reaction to an insect bite and an allergic one. Knowing the difference between these two conditions, you can avoid unnecessary worry and a visit to the doctor.
The severity of the reaction to an insect bite is individual for each person. There are three types of reaction to an insect bite – normal, local and allergic.
Symptoms of a normal reaction include pain, swelling and redness around the bite site.
A wide local response will cause swelling over a large area of skin. For example, if the bite fell on the ankle, the entire leg may swell. Such a reaction may be frightening, but, as a rule, it is no more serious than a normal reaction.
The most acute reaction to an insect bite is allergic (described below). If the insect bite caused such a reaction, you should immediately call a doctor.
Treatment of normal and local allergic reaction
If the insect is stung in the hand, you must immediately remove the rings from your fingers.
After a bee sting, as a rule, there is a bag of poison and a sting in the skin. It is necessary to remove the sting within 30 seconds in order to avoid further exposure to poison. Carefully remove the bag of poison and the sting with a fingernail or a hard object, such as a credit card. Do not squeeze the bag and do not pull the sting – it will lead to a more intense release of poison into the skin.
Wash the bite site with soap and water, then apply an antiseptic.
Apply a soothing ointment to the bite site, for example, hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion, apply a dry sterile dressing.
If swelling occurs, apply ice or a cold compress to the bite site.
An antihistamine will help reduce itching, swelling and rashes. However, this drug should not be given to children under 2 years old or pregnant without consulting a doctor.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen, will help relieve pain. Pregnant women should consult a physician before taking any over-the-counter medication.
You should also read the leaflet and label of any medication before taking. Parents and people who are already taking medications should consult a doctor about the characteristics of taking a particular drug.
Methods of treating allergic reactions
An allergic reaction is treated with epinephrine (adrenaline), which is administered independently by the patient, or by a doctor. As a rule, injections of epinephrine prevent the development of an acute allergic reaction.
In some cases, droppers, oxygen therapy and other procedures are needed. Sometimes, when a person’s condition stabilizes, he needs to stay in the hospital overnight under medical supervision. People who have previously experienced allergic reactions should always have epinephrine with them. Nevertheless, medical assistance for insect bites is recommended, since a single dose of epinephrine may not be enough to stop the allergic reaction.
How to avoid an insect bite?
Our tips will help you avoid an insect bite:
- Learn to identify insect nests and avoid them. Wasp nests are most often found in earth mounds, old logs, and walls. Bees nest in hives. Hornets nest in shrubs, trees and on buildings.
- When outdoors, wear socks and shoes.
- Wear shirts, long-sleeved blouses, long trousers, socks, and shoes while out of town or in wooded areas.
- Do not use perfumes and do not wear clothes of bright colors – this usually attracts insects.
- If you suffer from acute allergic reactions, never be alone during long walks, boating, swimming and other outdoor activities, as you may need urgent medical attention if you are bitten by an insect.
- Put insect nets on windows and doors. Use insect repellent products. Spray a little spray of insect repellent in your bedroom before you go to bed.
- Rubbish bins regularly with an insect spray, keep them closed.
- Avoid or remove plants and vines that attract insects that grow in and around the house.
- People suffering from acute allergic reactions to insect bites should always carry with them special sets of self-help (described below) in the event of acute symptoms. More information about the special self-help kits will be provided by the specialists of the Eurolab clinic.
Self-help kits for insect bites
Self-help kits for insect bites containing epinephrine should be used immediately after being bitten before you are treated. The most common is the Epi-pen. However, the drug can not be an appropriate substitute for medical intervention – you must still call the doctor after an insect bite. Epinephrine may not be enough to prevent a serious, life-threatening, allergic reaction, it can also cause side effects in people with heart disease and those taking certain drugs.
Epi-pen is available on prescription. Before use, you should consult with your doctor, informing him about the medicines you are taking to avoid drug interactions.
How to prevent an allergic reaction?
An allergic reaction to an insect sting can be prevented with allergy shots (immunotherapy). The effectiveness of treatment in relation to the prevention of allergy in the future is 97%. An allergic person is given gradually increasing doses of poison, which makes his immune system resistant to allergic reactions in the future.
If you have an allergic reaction, consult an allergist, a doctor who diagnoses and treats allergic diseases. Based on your medical history and test results, an allergist will determine if you need immunotherapy.