This test is used in patients with allergy to bee or wasp venom, to check if the treatment has been successful.
Immunotherapy (allergy vaccines) is used to change the natural course of the allergic diseases. In the case of allergy to insect stings, vaccines are used to induce tolerance to bee or wasp venom, so that the patient has only a local reaction, in the site of the sting, just like persons without allergy.
Allergy vaccines are usually administered during three to five years. After this time, the doctor might suggest to perform an insect sting test to know if the patient is tolerant.
A bee or a wasp is held on the arm of the patient, until the patient is stung. The patient is then watched to see if symptoms appear. These could be only local, or appear at a distance from the site of the sting. Depending on the type and severity of the symptoms, one can evaluate the efficacy of the immunotherapy and decide to continue or discontinue it.
Usually an intravenous line is placed before the test. Some pain is caused by this, as well as by the sting of the insect. The main risk of the test is that a severe reaction appears. Because of this, the test must be performed in a clinical setting prepared to manage such reactions.
If you are scheduled for an insect sting test you must inform your doctor about the medication you are using, as it could change the result of the test.
Angel Mazon MD, PhD