Insect bites and stings are a particular annoyance during the summer months, however, for some, the thought of being bitten or stung may cause considerable anxiety. An allergic reaction to a bite or sting can cause symptoms ranging from rashes, hives, swelling or stomach pain, to shortness of breath, fainting or full anaphylaxis.
If you have noticed any symptoms that suggest an allergic reaction after being stung or bitten by a bug and think you may be suffering from an insect bite allergy, at Midland Health we can offer a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. Book your GP appointment at our clinic today to discuss allergy testing and treatment options with your doctor.
Insect Bite Allergy Symptoms
When you get bitten or sprung by an insect, the normal reaction of the body is to develop a small swollen lump on the skin that gets red, itchy and sometimes painful. If you are not allergic, the swelling should go down on its own and the symptoms should disappear within a couple of days. Sometimes it may take just a few hours to see an improvement and other times – a little longer, but the symptoms will be contained within the immediate area of the bite and will only cause minor discomfort.
If you have an insect bite allergy, you will exhibit symptoms more severe than those expected of a normal bug bite. You could have two types of allergic reactions:
- Mild/localised allergic reaction: If you are suffering from a mild insect bite allergy, the symptoms are the same as the normal bug bite symptoms – swelling and redness of the skin, pain and itchiness. However, the difference is that the affected area of the skin goes beyond the exact spot where you got bitten or stung and is a lot larger than normal (more than 10 cm). In this case, symptoms generally pass within a week.
- Severe/generalised allergic reaction: If you have a severe allergy to insect bites or stings, you may experience severe symptoms immediately. Those include swelling of the face and the mouth, difficulties breathing, abnormal heart rate and dizziness. This is called anaphylaxis and is considered a medical emergency. If those symptoms occur, seek medical help immediately.
If you or someone else around you is showing signs of a severe allergic reaction and you have an EpiPen at your disposal, use it and call a doctor immediately after. If you don’t have epinephrine available, call 999 immediately, as this could be a life-threatening situation.
Insect Bite Allergy Treatment
There is no specific treatment for insect bite/sting allergy, so the condition cannot be cured. However, it can be managed successfully using allergy shots (immunotherapy) and the insect bite allergy symptoms can be treated using various methods, as well.
Mild allergy symptoms may be treatable with antihistamine tablets or topical medication, such as special creams. If you are diagnosed with a severe insect bite allergy, you may be required to carry an epinephrine pen in case of anaphylaxis.
During your appointment at Midland Health, your GP will talk you through your options to put your mind at ease.
Insect Bite Allergy Diagnosis
Usually, people will seek insect bite allergy testing after having experienced worrying symptoms caused by a bug bite or sting. Your Midland Health GP will discuss your concerns and ask you questions about your medical history to find out probable signs of an allergy.
If your doctor suspects you might have an insect allergy, they may offer allergy testing at the Midland Health clinic. The test involves taking a blood sample and testing for the presence of antibodies. This may be more suitable if a severe allergy is suspected.
Our GPs can administer allergy testing so you will be in the care of your doctor the whole time and since we have testing facilities within our clinics, you can have all necessary allergy tests done the same day.
Speak to us today to book your appointment at Midland Health!
Can I build a tolerance to bug bites over time?
In some cases, it may be possible to build tolerance and reduce the likelihood of a severe reaction to bug bites and stings by using immunotherapy – a process that involves getting allergy shots at regular intervals.
What’s an epinephrine pen and do I need one?
An epinephrine pen or an EpiPen is an autoinjector tool used to administer epinephrine in a medical emergency. It helps reduce the symptoms of anaphylaxis – it normalises breathing, stimulates the heart rate, reduces the swelling of the face and throat, and raises dropping blood pressure.
If you have ever exhibited a severe allergic reaction, you should always have an epinephrine pen with you at all times. Your doctor will be able to give you a prescription for the medication.
What is the most common insect bite allergy in the UK?
The wasp sting is the most common bite allergy in the UK and it is something you should look out for especially in the summer months.
What other insect bite allergies can I have?
Wasp sting allergy and mosquito sting allergy are the most widely spread bug bite allergies but you can also experience allergic symptoms when being bitten by other insects, such as spiders, fleas, lice, fire ants, ticks and more.
How do I avoid being stung?
You can never fully avoid insects but there are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of getting bitten or stung by an insect including:
- Wear long sleeves, trousers and shoes
- If you see an insect, stay calm and move away slowly to avoid irritating it
- Apply insect repellent
- Avoid strong perfumes, soaps and bright-coloured clothing as they attract insects
- Stay alert when moving near plants, bins and other areas where insects may be present
What should I do if I get bitten or stung?
If you experience a severe reaction caused by an insect allergy, such as wheezing, swelling of the throat, face and lips, feeling sick and dizziness – use your EpiPen if you have one and call 999 immediately.
If you are worried about a mild allergic reaction, or the area is getting infected, or if you have been stung near the eyes or throat, seek medical advice.
If you have been stung or bitten by an insect and you have no allergic reaction, you can wash the area with soap and water, place ice on the spot to reduce swelling and avoid scratching to reduce the chances of getting an infection.
- Insect Allergy Blood Test - £153
- Phlebotomy Appointment - £35
- Standard GP Consultation (30 min) - £120
- Express GP Consultation (15 min) - £60
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