Fire ant bites are no fun. If you live in an area populated with fire ants, there’s a 40% chance you’ll get bit. When they bite, they have a burning sensation, hence the “fire” ant. They tend to crawl around on your skin for at least 10 seconds before they make their first sting. That can be a real problem because you could have lots of them crawling on you and you don’t know it until they all start biting at once! Alkaloid venom is injected into your skin via the fire ant’s stinger. They will continue to bite you, even after their venom sac is emptied.
People react differently
The reaction to a fire ant sting is different for every person. In general, the bite is itchy, becomes inflamed, and is filled with a white pustule. It is best to not scratch them open, as this may cause infection or permanent scarring. They usually take a couple of weeks to completely disappear. And they may itch the whole time.
If you happen to be amongst the 15% of people allergic to fire ant stings, take extreme caution when around them. Symptoms of an allergic reaction are chest pains, swelling, dizziness, shock, or some cases a coma. There are a few extreme and rare cases of death caused by fire ant stings. Get to the emergency room immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Don’t hesitate to call an ambulance.
If you are stung
If you are stung by a fire ant, there are a few things you can do to help reduce the pain and itching, chance of infection, and the need for further medical attention.
- Move away from the nest to prevent more bites.
- Remove all clothes as soon as you can. (There may be ants still in them.)
- Wash the affected area with cold soapy water.
- Ice the affected area to calm swelling.
- Use alcohol to disinfect the area.
- Use a cortisone or similar topical cream to prevent infection, itchiness, and pain.
- Be careful not to open the bite blisters.
If you prefer to use the natural methods to treat your fire ant bites, we’ve had lots of suggestions from people. They are worth a try if you don’t like the thought of putting unnatural substances on you body. Here’s a list of suggestions:
- Meat tenderizer and water (thick paste)
- Baking soda and water (thick paste)
- Salt (thick paste)
- Alternately apply for five minutes: cotton ball soaked in ammonia, followed by a cotton ball soaked in peroxide. Continue for 20 minutes.
- Crushed aspirin (thick paste)
- Aloe jell
- Tea Tree oil (may also be good for other insect bites, such as, chiggers, fleas and mosquitoes)
- Fresh piece of onion
- Bleach and water (half and half)
- Dishwashing liquid