Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms allergic reaction Evaluation Treatment severe allergy Home Care itching pain in adults pain in children warning signs Underlying Cause

Bee, Wasp or Hornet Stings Underlying Cause

Most bee stings cause irritation and inflammation of the skin. Sometimes, the venom can cause an allergic reaction. This is often referred to as a hymenoptera envenomation.

Allergic reactions occur when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance, called an allergen. The immune system is made up of special cells, called white blood cells, which fight infection. When an allergen is present in the body, white blood cells recognize the allergen, and release chemicals into the bloodstream. These chemicals can cause inflammation of the skin, nose, throat, lungs or intestines.

Last Updated: Nov 2, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Bee, Wasp or Hornet Stings References
  1. Golden DB, Kagey-Sobotka A, Norman PS, Hamilton RG, Lichtenstein LM. Outcomes of allergy to insect stings in children, with and without venom immunotherapy. N Engl J Med. 2004 Aug 12;351(7):668-74. [15306668]
  2. Graft DF. Managing insect sting allergy. The ins and outs of venom immunotherapy. Postgrad Med. 2005 Jul;118(1):38-42. [16106918]
  3. Moffitt JE. Allergic reactions to insect stings and bites. South Med J. 2003 Nov;96(11):1073-9. [14632354]
  4. Steen CJ, Janniger CK, Schutzer SE, Schwartz RA. Insect sting reactions to bees, wasps, and ants. Int J Dermatol. 2005 Feb;44(2):91-4. [15689203]
  5. Stibich AS, Carbonaro PA, Schwartz RA. Insect bite reactions: an update. Dermatology. 2001;202(3):193-7. [11385222]
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