Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Allergies are abnormal or adverse reactions to a substance. Insect allergies are a reaction to insect stings or bites. It can also occur with exposure to such insects in an environment.
Stinging insects include:
Biting insects include:
Insects that cause respiratory allergies include:
Factors that increase your chance of insect allergies include:
An allergy to biting and stinging insects can affect the area around the bite or sting and cause:
can be a life-threatening reaction that causes:
Some insects cause respiratory allergies that result in:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Most diagnoses are based on a history of a reaction after a sting. For those with a severe insect allergy, stings may be life-threatening. Therefore, it is important to see an allergist or immunologist (doctor who specializes in allergies).
Some reactions cause trouble breathing. In this case, call for emergency medical help.
Treatment may include:
If you are diagnosed with a reaction to an insect bite or sting, follow your doctor's
To reduce your chance of having an allergic reaction to either biting or stinging insects:
To reduce your chance of having an allergic reaction to insects that provoke respiratory responses:
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
About Kids Health
Middleton’s Allergy: Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby-Year Book; 2009.
Insect sting allergies. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website. Available at:
http://www.acaai.org/public/facts/insects.htm. Accessed July 1, 2009.
Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby-Year Book; 1998.
Rank MA, Li JT. Allergen immunotherapy.
Mayo Clin Proc. 2007;82:1119-1123.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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