Reviewed by David Tinkelman, MD

Question: Are there ways I can protect myself from insect stings while outdoors?

Answer: Wear protective clothing while outside to decrease exposed skin. For example, wear long pants when hiking or mowing the grass, gloves while gardening, and shoes or sandals rather than running around in bare feet.


Question: Is any color of clothing better?

Answer: Wear white or light colored clothing; dark clothing and clothing with flowery designs are more likely to attract insects.


Question: Can I protect myself if I exercise outdoors?

Answer: Use unscented deodorant and rinse off perspiration after vigorous exercise. Insects are attracted to the scent of deodorants and perspiration. Avoid any strong smelling perfume, cologne, hair oil, hair spray or lotions because insects may be attracted by the smell. Use insect repellants and keep insecticide available.


Question: How can I protect myself from insect stings during a picnic?

Answer: Cover food and drinks at outdoor events as much as possible. The smell of food is a strong attraction for insects. Don't forget to cover garbage, as well.


Question: I've had severe reactions to insect stings in the past. What should I do to protect myself and let others know about my condition?

Answer: Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace stating that you are allergic to insect stings. The person with insect allergies should always carry an emergency pack. Talk with your healthcare provider about exactly what to have in the emergency pack, but generally it should contain each of the medications needed to treat a sting reaction, such as an oral antihistamine - syrup or chewable tablet - and an epinephrine injection device (EpiPen). If you have asthma, also keep a rescue inhaler and spacer in the pack. Ask your healthcare provider about potential symptoms of allergic reactions to insect stings. It also can be helpful to carry a small action plan card listing the actions to take and the importance of calling 911 or going to the closest medical facility once the medication is given. Review how to take all the medications that are prescribed in your action plan. If an epinephrine injection device is prescribed, review when it should be used and demonstrate the correct technique for your healthcare provider. Talk with family about how they can help you follow your action plan.

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