Insect Allergy Testing And Treatment- Allergy/Immunology
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What is insect allergy?
Insect allergy appears as swelling and redness at the site of an insect bite.
Following tests are performed to diagnose allergy to insect venom:
- Skin-prick test: In this test, a small quantity of a liquid comprising insect venom is placed on the back or forearm, which is then pricked with a tiny, sterile probe to permit the liquid to leak into the skin. If within 15-20 minutes, if any swelling, irritation or reddish spot forms, patient would be considered allergic to that particular substance.
- Blood test: Patient’s blood sample is sent to a laboratory to test for the presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to insect venom.
- Intradermal skin test: If the skin prick test is negative or inconclusive, an intradermal skin test might be done. During this test, a small quantity of venom extract is injected just underneath the skin. And if any redness, swelling, or irritation occurs within 15 minutes at the injection site, patient is considered allergic. This test is considered more precise than the skin-prick or blood tests in defining the presence of IgE antibodies.
It is recommended to visit hospital right away after a serious allergic reaction. Another approach for the allergy treatments include preventive treatments such as immunotherapy and avoidance of insect bites.
- Immunotherapy: It is considered a long-term treatment but highly effective option. During immunotherapy, patient receives increasing doses of venom to decrease a patient’s sensitivity to the venom. This helps to decrease the risk of a future allergic reaction to that particular venom.
- Avoidance of insect bites: Following are the possible ways to avoid insect bites:
- Avoid wearing sandals, flip-flops, or walking barefoot in the grass.
- Avoid wearing bright-colored clothes.
- Avoid drinking from open beverage can as insects can get inside the sweet beverage can.
- Do not hit a flying insect.
- Be careful while gardening. Wear proper shoes, socks and gloves.
- Avoid using sweet-smelling perfumes, deodorants and hair-sprays.
- If eating outdoors, try to keep food covered at all times.
- Keep car windows closed while driving.
- Always keep prescribed medicines within reach at all times.