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View Full Version : Delayed reaction to bee stings -- is this normal?


MLS
06-26-2006, 05:45 PM
I thought about putting this in GQ, but since there is probably not a single answer, well, we'll see how it goes here.

First of all, I'm NOT asking for medical advice, this is not a serious or emergency issue and yes, if it persists or keeps getting worse, I will see a real doctor. But I wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience or if this is just idiopathic.

About a week ago, I got stung by a bee or yellow jacket (or maybe two of them) on my leg. One sting on the back of my leg just above the ankle, and one or more on the inner part of my thigh. After yelling and swatting I ran inside and put baking soda and cold water on the site, which was the first thing I could find. Washed it, put on a topical lotion, I think it was Benadryl. Some relief ensued but it was still pretty dam annoying. It was a local reaction only, not general and certainly not life-threatening. It swelled up pretty bad in the upper one, got a very patch red rash and continued to give me little sparks of pain and itching. I had some oral antihistamine pills, so I gave one of those a try. Within a half hour, maybe even 15 minutes, all symptoms disappeared and stayed gone.

What's the problem? Well, two days ago, almost exactly a week after the initial incident, the symptoms have come back! I'm using alternately a cortaid cream and a benadryl cream, and took another antihistamine pill yesterday, and I've still got this four-inch diameter welt on my thigh. It itches and itches.

Does anybody have a similar experience or know what the heck would cause this to happen? Like I said, it's not life-threatening, doesn't look at all infected, and if it keeps getting worse I'll see a doctor.

Harriet the Spry
06-26-2006, 08:21 PM
I have heard it's possible for part of the stinger to stay in your skin and then get activated, essentially stinging you again.

MLS
06-26-2006, 09:35 PM
That seems logical, unless you count the 7 showers I had to have taken in between. Also, this time, when I take the oral antihistamine, it doesn't seem to have any effect. I am still very puzzled.

Manda JO
06-26-2006, 09:50 PM
Did you see the bee? Is it possible that it was a spider instead?

MLS
06-26-2006, 09:54 PM
No, it was definitely a bee or some similar insect. I tend to think a yellow jacket since they do hang out in the area where I was. I felt the first sting, swatted at it, and then felt the second sting or set of stings, higher up.

MaryEFoo
06-26-2006, 11:19 PM
(Unscientific anecdotal unproven single "data"-point): I've had an allergic hive effect resurrect itself upon getting a light exposure to another allergen. Example, I've got poison oak and it's dying back after a few days, but then drink a glass of orange juice (which used to cause me hives when I was a pre-teen), and the poison oak starts itching again.

MLS
06-26-2006, 11:26 PM
Now, that's interesting. The only other allergies I have that I'm aware of are penicillin and general pollen, etc. Whatever pollens are in the air are pretty much the same now as they were a week ago, and I certainly haven't had any penicillin. I'm trying real hard to remember anything else new or different that I've been exposed to and I can't think of a thing. The general concept sounds plausible, though.

scr4
06-28-2006, 12:19 AM
I was going to start a new thread but this OP is quite similar. If anyone has further thoughts I'd be interested in hearing it.

In my case I don't remember getting stung. First thing I noticed was a small red swelling and itching, which I took to be a mosquito bite. That was last Wednesday. Yesterday (Monday) the itching became considerably worse, and a 1.5" diameter area around the bite/sting was swelled. Today it's up to 4" diameter, and itching even worse.

I too am allergic to pollen, and currently taking Allegra.

And I too am not asking for medical advice. I already have a doctor's appointment for Friday (earliest available), and if it gets much worse before that I'll go to the ER. All symptoms are localized; no fever or nausea, no hives elsewhere.

MLS
06-28-2006, 06:15 PM
Now there's a coincidence!

FWIW, one of my inflamed areas seems to be a little better this evening; the other one still seems to be expanding, but that's the smaller of the two to begin with. I have been treating both with topical antihistamine. Except for last night, when I took an oral antihistamine and, unlike last week, it made me really, really sleepy. Those things are so weird -- they work so differently from one person to another, and even on the same person at different times.

Of course, if I'd been trying a different homeopathic "medicine" every day, I'd be crediting the latest improvement to the "work" of the latest snake oil. And thus we note again that anecdote != data.

rivulus
06-29-2006, 11:26 AM
I had something similar happen a few years ago. I got stung in the foot by a wasp. It hurt like a.... well you get the idea. After several days the welt went away. But then a week later it came back and itched like crazy. I went to the doctor and he said it just happens sometimes, and told me to take some Benadryl. The only trigger I could think of was heat -- I had been wearing sandals since the bite and that day put on socks and sneakers to go work out, so my feet got hot.

Possibly related to that, I have a bunch of mild environmental allergies (pollen, house dust, etc.) and tend to break out in a rash during the spring and summer, every #$%^& day when the temperature rises above a certain level.

CookingWithGas
06-29-2006, 11:48 AM
There was a discussion on exactly this question in GQ last year. You might take a look at Could a bee sting cause an allergic reaction 8 days later?! (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?t=333924&highlight=sting)

FilmGeek
06-29-2006, 11:51 AM
Could you have inadvertantly scratched it? Maybe with a different pair of pants or something? I react fairly severely to insect bites and I have to be very careful not to scratch or they get very inflamed. If I accidentally scratch (say, in my sleep) I can re-activate bites I thought were healed.

MLS
06-29-2006, 05:43 PM
All most helpful replies. It's actually starting to get better (again) now. I am interested to learn, from a post by Vetbridge in the link by CookingWithGas that there is a specific name for this -- Delayed Type Hypersensitivity Reaction. Of course the info in Vetbridge's links was just a tad over my head, but we can't all understand everything.

It is not, and never was, infected. I'd have recognized that. I may have rubbed the area while washing, or in a weak moment, but it was not scratched open. Other than the nasty insect's puncture, there is no broken skin, no pus, no other infection signs.

My symptoms are exactly like what rivulus described. And it was beastly hot, and humid, on the days when the rash re-emerged. So I'm going with the theory that the debilitating heat and my other seasonal allergies caused a DTHR.

Now I have a new piece of info to toss around for some day when somebody else has the same symptom. "Oh, it's nothing. Just Delayed Type Hypersensitivity Reaction." I have so many little bits of info like that rattling around my brain, my family thinks -- erroneously -- that I'm a medical expert.

Alice The Goon
06-29-2006, 09:36 PM
Now I have a new piece of info to toss around for some day when somebody else has the same symptom. "Oh, it's nothing. Just Delayed Type Hypersensitivity Reaction."


I wouldn't advise telling anyone that. These things have been known to spiral out of control, and evaluating someone else's medical condition and dispensing advice about it without a license is not really a smart thing to do.

MLS
06-30-2006, 05:22 PM
Hey, I was joking.

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