Mar 13, 2023

The Buzz On Summer Bug Allergies

Warm Jacksonville summers make spending time outdoors irresistible, but it can also spell trouble for anyone with summer allergies and insect allergies. Staying safe outside is a constant worry for anyone who experiences strong reactions to bugs, and knowing what to do when a bite happens can often be a life-or-death situation. Here are some common summer bug allergies, and what to do if you’re bitten.

Bees, Wasps, Yellow Jackets and Hornets

These are the most common bugs that cause allergic reactions. While getting stung is never a good feeling, knowing the difference between a normal reaction and an allergic reaction to bees can help you know when it’s time to get help. Mild pain, swelling, and redness around the sting is normal and not usually a sign of trouble. It is also important to know which type of insect stung you and where they are typically located:

  • Yellow Jackets: While their nests are usually built underground, they can also be found in the walls of frame buildings, the cracks in masonry or woodpiles.

  • Honeybees and Bumblebees: These types of insects attack when they are provoked. Avoid irritating nests that look like honeycombs located in hollow trees or cavities in buildings.

  • Wasps: This nest forms in a circular form of combs facing downwards and are often found in shrubs, woodpiles, under eaves and behind shutters.

  • Hornets: A hornet’s nest is gray or brown in the shape of a football and can be found high up in tree branches, shrubbery or in tree hollows.

You’ll know it’s time to seek medical help if you experience any trouble breathing, including wheezing or trouble swallowing, or swelling of the face and throat. Dizziness, hives, and a rapid pulse are also signs of trouble.

Here’s what to do if you’re stung:

  • Always seek emergency care if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction before or if you’re showing any of the signs of an allergic reaction and always follow their expert advice.

  • If the stinger is still present, scrape it from the skin using a flat object like a credit card. Trying to pull it out can cause any remaining venom in the stinger to enter the skin.

  • Wash the area with soap and water and apply hydrocortisone to reduce reaction symptoms and prevent secondary infections.

  • If you know you can take an antihistamine such as Benadryl or a pain reliever such as ibuprofen, these can help to relieve symptoms and pain.

  • If your symptoms do not indicate an allergic reaction and your are seeking immediate comfort relief, use a topical steroid ointment and compress the stung area with something cold will help maintain the itching and swelling.

Fire Ants

Nobody likes an accidental encounter with a nest of fire ants. Depending on the type of soil the ants are found in, the nest can reach heights of 18 inches. Even for people who are not allergic, the bites can cause itching, swelling and painful blisters. On the other hand, an allergic reaction to these bites can cause hives, abdominal distress, trouble breathing, dizziness and swelling of the throat or tongue.

For a regular bite, ice and hydrocortisone can help ease the discomfort. If you’re suffering from an allergic reaction, go to the hospital or call 911 immediately as an allergic reaction can be life-threatening.

To minimize the risk of being stung again, always wear shoes and socks when you’re outside, especially if you’ll be walking through grass or mowing the lawn, and wear gloves when working in the garden. If you spot a fire ant nest, have a professional exterminator remove the nest and schedule a follow-up visit to inspect your lawn to be sure they are gone.

Be Ready Before the Bite

Once you’ve experienced an allergic reaction to a bug bite, you have an increased risk of experiencing a similar – or worse – reaction if you are bitten again. Once you have been treated for the initial sting or bite, it is important to follow up with an allergy specialist to determine how sensitive you are and to discuss a course of treatment to avoid life-threatening situations in the future.

Immunotherapy, or a series of allergy shots, are not only helpful for summer allergies. They can also help you become less sensitive to insect bites and reduce the severity of your reactions. You may also be given an emergency injector such as an EpiPen to carry with you in case of a life-threatening sting or bite.

Summer Allergies and Bug Bites

Don’t let summer allergies and bug allergies stop you from enjoying the outdoors. An allergy specialist can work with you to help you figure out the best ways to help manage your allergies and help keep you prepared for any emergency situations so you can feel free to enjoy the summer months with everyone else!