Insect sting allergy drugs

If you have an allergic reaction to an insect sting, there are a few options for treatment. Your options depend upon whether your allergic reaction is mild or severe.

Severe allergic reactions are a medical emergency. They require immediate treatment and medical care.

Antihistamines are the first-line treatments for insect stings. They can help reduce swelling, itching, and hives. First-generation antihistamines are the easiest to find. These include:

  • brompheniramine (Dimetapp)
  • chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)
  • dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)
  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Sominex)
  • doxylamine (Vicks Nyquil)

First-generation antihistamines that address allergy symptoms may have a few undesirable side effects, such as drowsiness.

Newer antihistamines that have fewer or no such side effects and are nonsedating are available over the counter (OTC) and recommended by many doctors. OTC antihistamines that are nonsedating or less likely to cause drowsiness include:

Learn more about antihistamines.

Treatments for severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis, may include epinephrine or steroids.


Epinephrine is a hormone that increases heart rate, contracts blood vessels, and opens air passages. It’s more commonly known as adrenaline. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, epinephrine is the primary treatment for an emergency allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis. If you have an insect sting allergy, you should carry an auto-injection epinephrine kit whenever going anywhere in nature.

An epinephrine auto-injector is a combined needle and syringe that makes it easy to deliver a single dose of the medication. Common brands of auto-injection epinephrine are Anapen and EpiPen. Anapen is available in countries such as Ireland. EpiPen is available in countries such as the United States and Canada. In 2016, the company Mylan introduced an authorized generic version of the EpiPen.

It’s important to remember that epinephrine is a rescue medication only. Its effects are relatively short-lived. In most cases, further therapy is necessary to prevent a recurrence of the life-threatening condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, anyone who experiences an anaphylactic reaction to an insect sting should see a medical professional immediately, whether or not they’ve been given a dose of epinephrine.


A severe reaction may also require a course of oral or injected corticosteroids. Corticosteroids that may be used to treat allergies include cortisone and prednisone (Rayos).

Whether mild or severe, you can recover fully from insect sting allergic reactions with the proper medication. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about drugs for insect sting allergies.