Not all individuals are prone to insect sting allergies in spite of being stung by insect venom. In people who are not allergic, the venom causes only redness, itching, and mild pain and swelling at the site of the bite. Cleaning the area and applying ice are enough to relieve the symptoms. The people who are allergic to insect sting allergies and the venom usually have only mild symptoms, although the swelling may extend beyond the area right around the sting. People with insect sting allergy may have a more serious reaction, called an anaphylactic reaction. An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system of the body overreacts to an "invader" such as insect venom, which is the allergen. This overreaction of insect sting allergies is sometimes referred to as a hypersensitivity reaction.
The insect sting allergies form when the white blood cells produce an antibody to the protein in the venom. The allergic reaction occurs when the antibody, known as immunoglobulin E comes in contact with the protein and IgE promotes release from certain cells of chemicals and hormones called "mediators", like Histamine. These mediators affect the organs and other cells that cause the symptoms of the allergic reaction. A large number of stings may result in serious reactions or death, even if one is not allergic to bee venom.
A person can also have an allergic reaction from even a single sting. This is called an anaphylactic reaction that can be dangerous, even life threatening. An anaphylactic reaction does not usually occur on the first sting, since the immune system makes the antibody at the first sting and stores it on special cells until the next sting. This process is called "sensitization." Only on a second or later sting the body mounts a major defense against the venom, however anaphylactic reactions are rare, and do not happen to every person who is stung by an insect. Insect venom is used to treat certain medical conditions. In some procedures of herbal medicine, the venoms of various insects in this class are used either as direct stings (as a treatment for arthritis and other chronic diseases) or are applied to the skin or the eyes. Such apiotherapy however, may result in an anaphylactic reaction in people who are allergic.
The insect sting allergy symptoms primarily are intense pain and swelling in the area of the sting and people who are allergic to bee stings or who have been stung many times may react more dramatically. A severe local reaction often leads to pain and swelling that increase over the next few hours and become very uncomfortable. If these kinds of reactions occur near the face or neck, swelling can quickly block the airway of lungs and cause serious problems. The Fire ant stings cause a reaction in almost everyone; a small blister often forms at each site within 4 hours. A small sore with pus forms at each sting site and the sores rupture within 72 hours. The itching, pain, and redness may last for several days but would improve gradually.
The insect sting allergies can get serious if not attended properly; wet cloth or ice can prove to be a great relief in these cases. In Ayurveda and other herbal therapies, often mint pastes and cool mixtures are applied on insect sting allergies for instant relief.