Common Allergic Reactions to Insect Bites


Most people think of insects as pesky critters that cause irritating bites, but for those allergic, insects can be deadly. Knowing the signs of an allergic reaction as well as the insects that can cause them is key to treating the problem quickly.

Types of Insects

There are a variety of insects that can cause an allergic reaction, but the most common are stinging insects, such as bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets, and biting insects like ants and mosquitoes. It is more likely that a stinging bug will trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction; biting insects rarely do.

Signs of an Allergic Reaction

Most people that are bit or stung by an insect will experience pain, redness, itching and some swelling that goes away within hours or days. However, those who are allergic can suffer from symptoms as minor as itchy eyes or a runny nose to difficulty swallowing.

A life-threatening allergic reaction, commonly referred to as an anaphylaxis, requires immediate medication attention. Each year, 90-100 people die from insect sting anaphylaxis. If treatment is not received immediately, an anaphylaxis can cause death. Symptoms of an anaphylaxis include skin rashes and itching, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, shortness of breath, dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea.

Preventing an Allergic Reaction

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to prevent someone from being allergic to an insect. However, you can avoid getting bit by always wearing shoes when outdoors and keeping DEET on you at all times. If you know you are severely allergic to a specific insect, consult your doctor so you can get an epinephrine (adrenaline) shot to carry with you in case you get stung or bit.

If you believe you’ve been stung or bit and are allergic to the insect, consider visiting Denton Regional Urgent Care. We have physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.