How to treat an allergic reaction: Treatment and home remedies

How do you treat an allergic reaction?

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In March 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a safety alert to warn the public that epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPen, EpiPen Jr., and generic forms) may malfunction. This could prevent a person from receiving potentially life saving treatment during an emergency. If a person has a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector, they can view the recommendations from the manufacturer here and talk with their healthcare provider about safe usage.

Allergies are a common cause of illness and can occur at any stage in someone’s life. Numerous different things cause allergies from pollen to food to medication, meaning it is not always easy to know the best treatments or home remedies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 50 million Americans experience an allergic reaction each year, and the best treatment will depend on the cause and severity of the reaction.

In this article, we take a close look at a range of treatments for allergic reactions, depending on a person’s symptoms and their severity, including anaphylaxis.

Fast facts on treating an allergic reaction:

  • Most minor allergy symptoms can be treated with antihistamines, corticosteroids, or decongestants.
  • Saline nasal rinses can be used for congestion-related allergy symptoms.
  • Corticosteroid creams can treat skin rashes related to allergies.
  • Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment option for chronic allergy symptoms.
  • Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, and people should call 911 if they suspect someone is having an anaphylactic reaction.

Share on Pinterest Many people have allergies, which may cause symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.

An allergic reaction occurs when cells in the immune system interpret a foreign substance or allergen as harmful.

The immune system overreacts to these allergens and produces histamine, which is a chemical that causes allergy symptoms, such as inflammation, sneezing, and coughing.

Mild allergic reactions can usually be treated with home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

However, chronic allergies need treatment from a medical professional. Severe allergic reactions always require emergency medical care.

Many mild to moderate allergic reactions can be treated at home or with OTC medications. The following treatments are commonly used to reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction:


Antihistamines can help to treat most minor allergic reactions regardless of the cause. These drugs reduce the body’s production of histamine, which reduces all symptoms, including sneezing, watering eyes, and skin reactions.

Second-generation antihistamines, including Claritin (loratadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine), are less likely to cause drowsiness than first-generation antihistamines, such as Benadryl.

Antihistamines come in several forms, usually to help deliver the medication closer to the source of the reaction or make it easier to consume, such as:

  • oral pills
  • dissolvable tablets
  • nasal sprays
  • liquids
  • eye drops

Antihistamines in these forms are available from pharmacies, to buy online, or on prescription from a doctor.

Antihistamines can also be taken to prevent allergies. Many people with seasonal or pet allergies will begin taking antihistamines when they know they are going to be exposed to an allergen.

A person who is pregnant or has a liver disorder should consult their doctor before taking antihistamines.

Nasal decongestants

Nasal decongestant pills, liquids, and sprays can also help reduce stuffy, swollen sinuses and related symptoms, such as a sore throat or coughing.

However, decongestant medications should not be taken continuously for more than 72 hours.

Nasal decongestants are available over the counter and online.

Anti-inflammatory medication

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may also be used to help temporarily reduce pain, swelling, and cramping caused by allergies.

Avoid the allergen

The best way to treat and prevent allergic reactions is to know what triggers the reaction and stay away from it, especially food allergens.

When this is not possible or realistic, using antihistamines or decongestants when in contact with allergens can help to treat the symptoms.

Use a saline sinus rinse

When allergies cause sinus problems, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) recommend a person rinse their sinuses with saline. This can remove allergens and clear the airways.

The AAAAI recommend the following saline recipe:

  • mix 3 teaspoons of salt (without iodide) with 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 8 ounces of boiled water
  • dissolve the mixture in the water then use as a saline rinse

Sinus rinsing devices can be purchased online or from a pharmacy.

Treating environmental allergies

For airborne allergens, such as pollen, dust, and mold spores, additional treatment options include:

  • throat lozenges with soothing ingredients, such as menthol, honey, or ginger
  • shower and wash all clothing after being exposed to an allergen
  • exercise for a few minutes to help reduce nasal congestion

Treating allergies on the skin

For allergic reactions that cause skin symptoms, including those associated with allergens found in animal saliva, poisonous plants, drugs, chemicals and metals, additional treatment options include:

  • Topical corticosteroid creams or tablets. Corticosteroids contain steroids that reduce inflammation and itching. Mild forms of these creams can be found online, and a doctor can prescribe stronger versions.
  • Moisturizing creams. Emollient creams with soothing ingredients, such as calamine can treat skin reactions.
  • Bite or sting medication. Medication targeted to reduce allergic reactions to insect bites or stings have a similar effect to other allergy medications.
  • Ice pack. Applying an ice pack wrapped in cloth to the area for 10- to 15-minute intervals can reduce inflammation.

Treating severe allergies

People should speak to a professional if they have or suspect that they have severe or chronic allergies.

A doctor or allergy specialist can prescribe medications that contain much stronger doses of the compounds found in OTC products.

Treatment options for chronic or severe allergies include:

  • Immunotherapy, or allergy shots. Immunotherapy can be between 90 and 98 percent effective at reducing allergic reactions to insect stings, for instance.
  • Prescription asthma medications, such as bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids.
  • Oral cromolyn can be taken for food allergies.
  • Drug desensitization therapy is used for specific allergens.

Many traditional medicine systems use herbal supplements and extracts to both treat and prevent allergic reactions, especially seasonal allergies.

Though there is little scientific evidence to support the use of most alternative or natural remedies, some people may find that some can provide relief from their symptoms.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians recommend the following natural treatments for allergies:

  • Dietary changes. A low-fat diet high in complex carbohydrates, such as beans, whole grains, and vegetables may reduce allergy reactions.
  • Bioflavonoids. These plant-based chemicals found in citrus fruits and blackcurrants may act as natural antihistamines. These can also be taken as supplements.
  • Supplements. Flaxseed oil, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E are suggested to improve allergy symptoms.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture treatments may help some people to find relief from their symptoms.

A very severe allergic reaction can lead to a condition called anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock.

Anaphylaxis occurs when the body’s immune response to an allergen is so severe and sudden that the body goes into a state of shock.

Anaphylaxis can impact multiple organs and if left untreated lead to coma, organ failure, and death.

The early symptoms of anaphylaxis can be fairly mild and similar to those of minor to moderate allergic reactions, but they often rapidly worsen.

Symptoms unique to anaphylaxis include:

  • unexplained anxiety
  • tingling in the palms of the hand, soles of the feet, and lips
  • swollen tongue, throat, mouth, and face
  • difficulty breathing
  • rapid but weak pulse
  • low blood pressure
  • sense of dread or doom
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • confusion or disorientation
  • loss of consciousness
  • very pale or blue skin
  • a heart attack

Anyone who suspects anaphylaxis should call 911 and seek emergency medical care.

If the person carries an EpiPen, which is a self-injectable dose of epinephrine that is designed to treat anaphylaxis, inject this into their thigh, as soon as possible.

First aid for anaphylaxis includes:

  • try to keep the person calm
  • the person may vomit, so turn them on their side and keep their mouth clear
  • try to get the person to lay flat on their back with their feet raised about a foot above the ground
  • make sure the person’s clothing is loose or remove constricting clothing
  • do not give them anything to drink or eat, even if they ask for it
  • if they are not breathing, practice CPR with around 100 firm chest compressions every minute until emergency services arrive

If a person does not have an EpiPen, a doctor or paramedic will give an injection of the hormone epinephrine, or adrenaline. This will immediately increase the output of the heart and blood flow throughout the body.

A person should seek medical care each time anaphylaxis occurs. Even if they start to feel better or their symptoms go away, a second severe allergic reaction can occur up to 12 hours after the initial response.

What Happens if You Can’t Get a Bee Stinger Out?

Bee stings can be very harmful to a person if they are allergic to a bee sting. In most cases, people would just have an itchy reaction to the bee sting. In some cases, it usually goes away by itself and there are also some cases where you would need to take action. Simple home remedies can sometimes do the trick, but when you have an allergic reaction it is best to seek medical attention. This article will discuss further what you can do if you are unable to take out the bee stinger.

What happens if you can’t get a bee stinger out? If a stinger is left in your skin, nothing severe would happen, assuming it doesn’t get infected. The longer the stinger stays in your body the more ‘venom’ will be pumped into your skin which will give you more itchiness. However, it would be a different story for someone who has an allergy to bee stings since it can cause anaphylactic shock.

Table of Contents

Bee Sting Symptoms

Bee stings can be annoying and sometimes a simple home remedy will do the trick to make it all go away. However, if you are allergic to bee stings, it would be another story. You may have a severe reaction that may need emergency attention.

The symptoms are categorized into three reactions and they are the mild reaction, moderate allergic reaction, and severe allergic reaction.

Mild Reaction

Most of the time bee stings are considered to be in the mild reaction section. You will feel an instant, sharp burning pain on the place where you were stung. There would also be a visible area of raised, red skin where you were stung.

Lastly, you would also see a slight swelling around the area. If you experienced this reaction, it may go away within a few hours. This type of reaction does not need any medical attention. The swelling will disappear after a couple of hours.

Moderate Allergic Reaction

Some people get stung by a bee or get bitten by any insect bites tend to have a bit stronger reaction. These reactions are extreme redness and swelling on the site where you have been stung. The swelling gradually enlarges over the next day or two.

In these types of cases, the body has a stronger reaction to the bees ‘venom’ which is called a large local reaction (LLR). You need to take caution since there is a five to six percent risk that you will develop a systemic reaction.

You might still want to contact the doctor if the reaction has not been resolved over ten days. The doctors will be able to provide you with treatment and prevention.

Severe Allergic Reaction

These types of an allergic reaction are also known as anaphylaxis. A severe allergic reaction is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency attention. There is a small number of people who experience these types of reaction.

Some signs include skin reactions such as hives, itching, and flushed or pale skin. You may also experience difficulty in breathing, swelling of the throat and tongue. You will also feel a rapid or weak pulse.

Other symptoms that you might feel are nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. Lastly, you might also experience dizziness, fainting, and loss of consciousness. People who experienced severe allergic reaction has a 30 to 60 percent chance of experiencing it again the next time they are stung.

You might want to talk to your doctor or an allergy specialist for prevention such as immunotherapy or ‘allergy shots’ in order to avoid a similar reaction the next time you get stung.

Multiple Bee Sting

Bees are not known to be aggressive and only sting people for self-defense. There are some cases that may result in more than one sting. If in any case that you get stung for more than a dozen times, it may accumulate a lot of venom which may induce toxic reaction.

Some symptoms that you may encounter are nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. You may also feel vertigo, headache, and fever. The worst-case scenario that you may experience are convulsions, dizziness, and fainting.

Multiple stings needs medical emergency attention in children, older adults, and people who have breathing and heart problems.

How to Get a Bee Sting Out After a Week?

It may not be the best decision to leave a bee stinger on your skin for a week. Having a sense of urgency when it comes to bee stings is important. In most cases, a typical honeybee usually has a good chunk of the body connected to its stinger.

There is a chance, though it may not be likely, that the material may cause far greater problems than a simple bee ‘venom’. One of the best home remedies that you can do is to scrape it with the back of a knife, needle, or credit card.

You have to make sure to do this carefully and remember not to try to ‘dig it out’ since it may deeply embed the stinger further onto your skin which can lead to infection. Another method that you can do is soak the part of your skin where the bee stinger is placed.

Our body’s automatic response to any foreign object is to push it out. Soaking the affected skin with hot water, not too hot but a heat that you can handle, and non-iodized sea salt will help to pull the stinger out of your skin.

It should be 1/8 teaspoon to every eight ounces of water. You should repeat this process several times a day and soak your skin at least 20 minutes where you should feel some relief after. You have to make sure that you do not over soak your skin.

If you can see the singer, it is best to pull it out with a tweezer. After you have done these steps and you were able to take out the stinger, make sure you apply antiseptic on the affected area. If you have tried these steps and you are still unable to take out the bee sting, make sure to see a doctor.

Another case where you need to see a doctor is if the bee tissue starts to pull off or become too shriveled which makes it hard to take out. It is not ideal to ignore the bee stinger in your skin, you have to make sure to remove it right away. This is in order to avoid any infection that you might encounter along the way.

Will a Bee Sting Fall Out Naturally?

Unfortunately, bee sting does not fall out naturally. You would need to do a couple of home remedies to get the stinger out of your skin. Most of the time bee stings are annoying and you may experience

Honey has a lot of medicinal properties and it contains compounds that combat inflammation which may reduce any swelling. The natural antibacterial agents that are present in the honey may prevent infection and can help with healing. temporary sharp pain, swelling, and redness.

These cases usually do not lead to serious complications. However, if you are allergic it can be problematic and may lead to life-threatening situations. When a honeybee stings you, its stinger is released into your skin which eventually kills the honeybee.

Now, when a bee stings you it will leave behind venomous toxin that can cause pain and other symptoms. The stinger is usually stuck on your skin and would not come out unless you take some action. There are a couple of home remedies that you can do to remove the stinger.

This is probably the number one remedy that most people use. Right after you have been stung, make sure to wash the area with water thoroughly to remove any bee ‘venom’ on your skin. Applying ice reduces swelling and pain.

Make sure that the ice is wrapped in a clean towel or any bag of frozen vegetables in cloth would also work. Place the bundle on the affected area, hold the bundle for a couple of minutes, and repeat as needed.


You might want to spread a small amount of honey on the affected area indoors in order to avoid attracting more bees.

Essential Oils

There are several essential oils that contain antiseptic, antibacterial, or antifungal properties. Essential oils have been used for a long time as a home remedy. Before you apply any oils on the affected area, you have to mix it with a neutral carrier oil such as olive oil.

The mixture is about a drop of essential oil in every five drops of carrier oil. Some oils that you can use are tea tree, witch hazel, lavender, thyme, and rosemary oils. You would also have to make sure that you are not allergic to any of the said oils.

These are just some of the first aid that you can do once you have been stung by a bee. If any of these home remedies do not work, you have to make sure to seek a doctor immediately.


To summarize, there is nothing too severe that may happen when a bee stinger is left on your skin. You may feel some irritability and itchiness when the stinger is still on your skin. It is best if you remove the stinger right away to avoid any irritation and infection that you may have along the way. A few home remedies can help get the stinger out such as applying ice, honey, and essential oils on the affected area.

If you are allergic to bee stings, it is best to go straight to the doctor to provide treatment. However, in reality, if you are stung by a Bee and have any concerns you should seek professional medical advice first!

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