Most insects do more good than harm, but those who have an insect allergy may beg to differ. A simple exposure could be dangerous or even deadly to those with an allergy to mosquito, fire ant, or cockroach. Is there a way to treat the cause, or is avoidance the only option? This blog dives deep into both options.
Most people react to mosquito bites with itching and inflamed bumps ― it’s a natural response. Did you know that some are actually allergic to mosquito bites? Technically, they’re allergic to the saliva of the mosquito that’s transferred when bitten.
How do you know you’re allergic? Symptoms can be:
- Bruising near bite
- Inflamed, larger than a quarter
- Fever and headache
For the severely allergic, there can be a risk of anaphylaxis. To avoid mosquito bites, wear clothing that cover most of the arms and legs, wear insect repellent, and stay away from standing water, where mosquitos thrive.
You guessed it ― you can be allergic to fire ants, too.
Most people react from a small cluster of stings. There is an immediate pain of the sting that subsides to mild itching. But for those who are allergic, the area can swell, become intensely itchy, and can even burn and turn into blisters. Though less common, anaphylaxis is possible.
You can avoid stings by staying away from the large mounds of dirt where they live, and use repellents made for fire ants.
Being allergic to cockroach is different than being allergic to fire ant and mosquito: A person doesn’t have to be bitten or stung by a cockroach to have a reaction, they just have to be around them.
An allergy to cockroach is similar to an allergy to dust mite. The body parts of cockroaches, dead cockroaches, their waste, and their saliva can all trigger allergies and asthma. When proteins from these parts are inhaled, they cause more of the typical allergy symptoms, like:
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Exacerbated asthma
Controlling reactions from cockroaches are also different than with the other insects. It includes avoiding food sitting out in your home (even crumbs on counter or floor, open trash cans, etc.) and using traps, sprays, or a specialist to remove and prevent cockroaches.
Treating the cause of insect allergy
For those who are allergic, avoiding insects is not as straightforward as avoiding, for example, a food you’re allergic to. You can’t check an ingredient label or substitute ingredients in a recipe ― you have to hope that the insects will stay away from you.
Treating the cause of your underlying allergy can add a layer of safety in case of being bitten, stung, or exposed to the offending insect. With sublingual immunotherapy, patients slowly build tolerance by placing a liquid drop containing their offending allergens under the tongue three times daily. Over time, the body learns to not react to the exposure.
If you want to get back out there – camping, gardening, boating, or even visiting a family member living where cockroaches are common – find a provider near you that offers sublingual immunotherapy following the La Crosse Method Protocol.
By Taylor Pasell, Allergychoices