Venom Allergies

Also known as: insect venom allergies, stinging insect allergies

What are venom allergies?

When the body produces an immune system overreaction in response to venom entering the body, this is known as a venom allergy. Symptoms can range from mild reactions to severe, life-threatening symptoms.

What causes venom allergies?

In most instances, this is in response to a sting or bite from an insect such as a bee, wasp, hornet, or fire ant. The term venom allergy is typically not used in regard to bites from venomous animals such as snakes or spiders since this is a toxin that all people react to regardless of an allergy being present.

What are the symptoms of venom allergies?

Symptoms can be mild and include local swelling only, hives only, or can be severe and include swelling, itching, hives, throat swelling, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness. In some cases, the symptoms can be life-threatening.

What are the care options for venom allergies?

People with severe, life-threatening venom allergies require emergency medical care if stung. They should always carry injectable epinephrine to stop the reaction and save the person’s life.

Venom Immunotherapy (VIT) or allergy shots to venoms, can reduce the risk of anaphylaxis to future stings from approximately 60% to less than 3% risk, which is the same as the general population. If you had anaphylaxis to venoms previously, this can be a life-saving intervention. You should discuss this with a board-certified allergist.

For mild reactions, like local swelling, you should wash and clean the wound, raise and put a cold compress on it and use topical steroids and oral antihistamines to alleviate itchiness/pain.

Reviewed by: Dr. Amy S Feldman

This page was last updated on: May 12, 2021 10:39 AM

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