Stings and bites from insects and ticks commonly cause allergic reactions, ranging from a local swelling to major anaphylaxis. Each patient responds in a unique way and the best course of action must be determined, taking several factors into account, including identification of the offending insect and the severity of the reaction.
- Life-threatening allergic reactions to stings or bites from insects and ticks are relatively common.
- The insects responsible include honey bees; paper, mud and European wasps; and ants.
- Allergic reactions to bites and stings develop rapidly, peak quickly and usually ease within a day or two.
- Adverse reactions range from large local swellings arising from the sting or bite site to systemic responses confined to the skin and anaphylaxis.
- The most effective method to reverse anaphylaxis is an injection of adrenaline.
- Killing embedded ticks in situ reduces the risk of allergic reaction.
Picture credit: © SPL/Ian Boddy.