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Living with Insect Allergies

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: March 2022

Living with any kind of allergy is hard. No matter what kind of allergy you have, some lifestyle changes are usually needed. Living with insect sting allergies can be especially challenging, since nearly everyone spends at least some time outside.

Finding ways to adjust, use safety precautions, and deal with fear of exposure can help you live life comfortably.

Dealing with fear of exposure

Fear of exposure may mean anxiety about going outside or fear of being stung. For children with sting allergies, it can help to calmly explain how they can keep themselves safe. They should also get age-appropriate coaching on how to treat a sting.

For both adults and children, educate others about insect sting allergy and any safety precautions needed.

If the fear continues, talk with your allergist. They may be able to help or connect you to a therapist who works with people with allergies. Talking to someone may help reduce your anxieties and find coping skills that work for you.

Follow safety precautions

Insect repellents do not discourage stinging insects. This is why it is so important to follow basic safety precautions when outside. These tips help reduce your risk of insect stings and keep you safe. Things you can do when outside include:1,2

  • Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible. This makes it harder for the stinger to reach your skin.
  • Avoid open garbage cans and exposed food at picnics. Both attract stinging insects.
  • Try not to swat a flying insect if it comes near you.
  • Do not disturb insect nests.
  • Do not wear perfumes, or strongly scented deodorants, hairsprays, and other body care products.
  • Do not drink from open drink cans.
  • Cover all food and drinks, especially anything sweet, at picnics and barbecues.
  • Use work gloves and wear closed-toe shoes with socks when gardening or doing yard work.
  • Do not walk barefoot outside.
  • Always have your epinephrine auto-injectors with you. Use them quickly if signs of a serious reaction occur.
  • Wear medical alert identification if you have been diagnosed with a sting allergy.

If you get stung and a stinger is still in the skin, remove it as quickly as you can. Scrape it off with your nail or a credit card. Do not use tweezers, as this can cause more venom to be released.2

Finding support and resources

Finding support for your allergy can be helpful. It can help you feel less alone, and you can share tips and tricks for being outdoors safely. You can also learn what has worked for others when they get stung and how they cope with any anxiety about stings.

Talk with family and friends about your insect allergy. This helps your loved ones take steps to protect you during barbecues, picnics, or outside gatherings. Knowing about your allergy can help them be prepared in case of a sting or exposure. They can also provide support and understanding about your allergy.

You can still live a full life outdoors even with an insect sting allergy. Talk with your allergist about your allergy and ways you can enjoy your time outside.

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