How do you treat an allergic reaction to an insect sting?

Your 24/7 Nurse Bees and wasps can often trigger allergic reactions. The problem is many people may mistake a normal sting reaction for an allergic reaction. So, how can you tell the difference?

The three types of reactions are normal, local and allergic.  A normal reaction results in pain, swelling and redness. A local reaction results in swelling that extends past the sting site. It may look bad, but it is generally no cause for concern. An allergic reaction may require medical attention.

Allergic reactions

A mild allergic reaction may cause pain, redness, mild to moderate swelling, itching and warmth at the sting site.

A severe allergic reaction may cause hives, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing and swelling of the face, throat or mouth. Severe reactions are not common, but they are serious. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How to treat a sting

Bees normally leave a sac of venom and a stinger in the skin. Remove the stinger within 30 seconds, if possible. Scrape the stinger out with a fingernail or stiff object like a credit card. Do not pinch or squeeze the stinger to remove it as this causes more venom to be released from the stinger.

Immediately apply a paste of meat tenderizer and water directly to the site, leaving it in place at least 20 minutes. The meat tenderizer will help neutralize the venom, reducing the amount of reaction. Wash the area with soap and water and apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment one time.

Apply an ice pack to relieve swelling. Take an over-the-counter antihistamine to reduce itching. Pregnant women and children under age 2 need to seek a doctor’s approval before taking this medication.

Phone the Baptist Health Line 24/7 at (270) 575-2918 if you have questions about a sting. Our nurses welcome your questions, and we’ll answer them here every Wednesday.

About Baptist Health Paducah

Baptist Health Paducah is a regional medical and referral center, serving about 200,000 patients a year from four states. With more than 1,800 employees and 200 physicians, it offers a full range of services, including cardiac and cancer care, diagnostic imaging, women’s and children’s services, surgery, emergency treatment, rehabilitation and more. Since its humble beginning in 1953, Baptist Health Paducah has grown from 117 beds to 349 beds on a campus covering eight square blocks.
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2 Responses to How do you treat an allergic reaction to an insect sting?

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