Looking for something?

Find it in our extensive resource library!

Smart Filters

  • Reset
  • Services

  • Who it's for

  • What it’s about

  • Format

View: 421

Download: 1

Venom immunotherapy

This resource is for parents or carers of children with a diagnosed venom allergy and who are considering undergoing venom immunotherapy.


Please come with your child to their appointment. Please make sure they have a good breakfast and take one of their usual antihistamine tablets on the morning of the appointment.

If you have any queries, please telephone Medical Day Care on 0114 305 3473 or 0114 305 3427.

What is venom immunotherapy?

Most allergies are due to an over reaction of the immune system to foreign material, such as bee or wasp venom, pollens, or animal dander. Venom immunotherapy (also known as desensitization) is a treatment in which increasing doses venom are given in order to improve the body’s tolerance in case the individual has another sting.

What does the treatment involve?

Different amounts of venom will be injected just below the surface of your child’s skin.

To start with we build up your tolerance by giving increasing amounts of allergen over a specific period according to your schedule.

Afterwards we give a maintenance dose as a 4 to 8 weekly injection for up to 3 years.

These injections are timed at specific intervals and it is extremely important that you or your child attend each visit unless they are unwell.

At each visit the doctor will record details of your preceding injection and symptoms you may have had. After each injection your child must be stay in the clinic for at least 1 hour to check that they are well enough. If they feel unwell after the injection, they may need to stay a little longer until the doctor is happy for you to leave.

What is the response to the treatment?

The vast majority of people having venom immunotherapy will be completely protected from future stings for up to 10 to 20 years.

However, there is still about a 5 percent chance of having an allergic reaction next time your child is stung. This is particularly if they are stung by multiple stinging insects at the same time.

Children with bee or wasp sting allergies should still carry their adrenaline auto-injector (Epipen, Jext or Emerade) at all times.

Are there any side effects to the treatment?

After the injection a small local reaction will sometimes appear in the form of a swelling with redness. In some cases the swelling may be quite large and may even be accompanied by nose or chest symptoms.

These will usually settle on their own or with an antihistamine (if your child is not already taking them) but if you are concerned you should not hesitate to contact the paediatric allergy consultant.

Delayed symptoms such as localised swelling or itching will usually settle on their own. If the symptoms are troublesome, you can give them an extra dose of antihistamine can be given.

If their skin is very itchy, you can give them a steroid cream such as 1 percent hydrocortisone. If you are concerned for your child, not hesitate to contact the paediatric allergy consultant.

Local reactions are not a reason to discontinue the treatment, but some adjustment will be made to the dosage. Rarely, small nodules may appear under the skin at the site of the injection. These are nothing serious and do not mean treatment needs to be stopped.

Serious reactions to immunotherapy are very rare but can occur during the first 30 to 60 minutes following the injection. In the past, rare deaths have occurred due to serious systemic reactions that were not treated promptly. This is why we ask you to stay for 60 minutes after each injection. The medical staff in the clinic are experienced in treating this sort of reaction and will deal help your child if they need treatment.

Is there anything that I should not do after my child’s injection?

During the 24 hours after the injection, your child must avoid any form of strenuous physical exercise, prolonged hot bathing and alcohol. These activities can increase the risk of delayed reactions.

What should I do if my child develops a new illness or is put on a new drug?

You should inform the paediatric allergy consultant if your child has a new illness or if you have started a new medication. Sometimes they may need to stop immunotherapy treatment.

Injections should not be given at the same time as vaccinations. We usually recommend leaving 2 weeks between vaccinations and immunotherapy injections. Injections are also not recommended during ‘colds’ or chest infections. If in doubt, please speak to the nurse or the doctor at the immunotherapy clinic.

We will not start immunotherapy if your child is already pregnant. However, if they become pregnant whilst already on a well established maintenance regime, treatment can be continued. This should discussed with your child’s doctor since there is still a small but real risk of having a severe allergic reaction during treatment and this might affect the baby’s health.


Please discuss with your doctor or specialised nurse if you have any queries or questions.

Contact us

Paediatric allergy consultant secretary: call 0114 305 3897 or 0114 271 7585.

Medical day ward: call 0114 305 3473 or 0114 305 3427.

Allergy nurses: call 0114 226 7872 or email scn-tr.allergy@nhs.net

Allergy secretaries: call 0114 271 7585 (an answer machine is available out of hours)

Allergy UK: call 01322 619898 or visit www.allergyuk.org

Asthma UK: call 01322 619898 or visit www.asthma.org.uk

The Anaphylaxis Campaign: 01252 542029 or visit www.anaphylaxis.org.uk

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

Contact us


Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: ALG13

Resource Type: Article


Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

Interesting Facts

We’ve got a special MRI scanner just for teddies so children can see what it’s like before they have a scan.

Help to transform our extraordinary hospital into something even better.


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.