Bee Stings. What to do if you or a family member has been stung by a bee. Bee stings can be very serious and even deadly for those that are allergic. But how do you know if you’re allergic? Allergy skin tests and allergy blood tests are often used together to diagnose insect allergies. Your doctor may also want to test you for allergies to yellow jackets, hornets and wasps — which can cause allergic reactions similar to those of bee stings. If you've had a reaction to bee stings that suggests you might be allergic to bee venom, your doctor may suggest one or both of the following tests:
- Skin test. During skin testing, a small amount of allergen extract (in this case, bee venom) is injected into the skin of your arm or upper back. This test is safe and won't cause any serious reactions. If you're allergic to bee stings, you'll develop a raised bump on your skin at the test site.
- Allergy blood test. A blood test can measure your immune system's response to bee venom by measuring the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your bloodstream. A blood sample is sent to a medical laboratory, where it can be tested for evidence of sensitivity to possible allergens.
- Remove the stinger as soon as you can, as it takes only seconds for all of the venom to enter your body. Get the stinger out any way you can, such as with your fingernails or a tweezer.
- Wash the sting area with soap and water.
- Apply a cold compress.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed. You might try ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Children's Motrin, others) to help ease discomfort.
- If the sting is on an arm or leg, elevate it.
- Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to ease redness, itching or swelling.
- If itching or swelling is bothersome, take an oral antihistamine that contains diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton).
- Avoid scratching the sting area. This will worsen itching and swelling and increase your risk of infection.
Spring Allergies! How to prevent them before they start. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. Allergies affect 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children. An estimated 10 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. have asthma, related to their allergies. Allergies may be seasonal and symptoms are typically triggered by pollen (weeds, grass, trees) or airborne mold spores. Since the predominant pollen types vary by geographic region and pollen levels can change day-to-day, it is important to monitor daily pollen counts to avoid being subject to large amounts of it. To reduce pollen exposure, we recommend the following measures:
- Close windows and doors when pollen counts are high
- Remove clothes that have been worn outside, and shower to remove pollen from skin and hair
- Avoid outside activity in the morning when pollen counts are highest