As the summer months are upon us, those of us physicians who practice primary care medicine often see an increase in various allergic reactions. Many of these stem from patients increasing their exposure to the sun and all the bugs associated with the great outdoors. But that is what playing outside is all about.
One of the most common allergic reactions that prompts a visit to the physician is called the type IV allergic reaction. It is also referred to as a “delayed hypersensitivity reaction.” This is because it grows worse each day over the first 4 days before eventually subsiding. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately for those of us who make our living seeing patients, this can often cause quite a bit of anxiety and worry. The reaction itself looks more like an infection than an allergy.
The skin is often erythematous (red) and warm around the site of the bite and can swell to be quite large. There should be no pus. Each day this becomes more red and more swollen and often prompts a visit to the physician–for this I thank you.
The actual treatment is a twenty minute application of ice to the site a few times a day, oral Benadryl or other antihistamine, and a large dose of reassurance. And then it is back to playing in the sun.
Enjoy the global warming but remember to see your physician before you get well all by yourself.