Allergy and Asthma Program | Bee Sting (Venom) Testing

“Venom” is what an insect injects into the skin during a bite or sting. If your child had a serious reaction to an insect sting, your allergist may want to perform this test to see if your child is allergic to venom.

What happens during the bee sting test?

Your child will be tested for an allergy to five insects:

  • white-faced hornet
  • yellow hornet
  • yellow jacket
  • honey bee
  • wasp
There are five stages of testing, with 15-20 minutes between each stage. The following tests are done during these stages:
  • A skin prick test: An allergy nurse places drops of liquid onto your child’s arm or back, and presses the liquid into the skin with an applicator.
  • A needle test (intradermal): An allergy nurse uses tiny needles to inject a small amount of venom under the top layer of skin on the upper arm.

During each stage, the allergy nurse carefully watches for an allergic reaction, which is most often a small red bump that may feel itchy at the sight of injection.

What if my child has a reaction to the bee sting test?

If your child has a positive reaction, your child is considered allergic to that venom. These reactions usually go away in 30–60 minutes. It is possible to be allergic to more than one kind of venom.

Your child may have swelling and itching at the testing site four to eight hours after the test. You may use an over the counter hydrocortisone cream to help with this.

Your child may have a skin reaction at the testing site several hours after the test is done (this is called a delayed local skin reaction). This reaction is typically not serious and should go away during the next two to three days. If you are worried about a delayed reaction, call 617-355-6117 and ask to speak with an allergy nurse.

When will I learn the bee sting test results?

The allergist or nurse tells you the results of the bee sting test before you leave. Your primary allergist will discuss the next step or the plan of care with you at a follow-up visit or on a telephone call with you.