What Is the Best Thing to Put on Fire Ant Bites?

Reviewed on 12/23/2020

Fire ants
About 5% of the cases of fire ant bites may be fatal. The sting feels like a sharp pain and burns.

Fire ants are one of the most aggressive insects found all over the world. They don’t bite but sting and it burns, hence their name. These ants are dark reddish-brown in color and nest in soil or the landscaping areas. They are commonly introduced into new areas through potted plants, shrubs, and trees. They may enter the house through vents or AC ducts. About 5% of the cases of fire ant bites may be fatal. The sting feels like a sharp pain and burns. The sting turns into an itchy white blister over the next day. If you suspect a fire ant infestation, report it to your county agricultural commissioner.

Some of the best things to put on fire ant bites include:

  • An ice pack or cold compress: Applying an ice pack on the site for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off.
  • Hydrocortisone cream: Applying 0.5-1% hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching.
  • Calamine lotion: Using a calamine lotion to be applied on the site.
  • Aloe vera: Applying fresh aloe vera gel may help to soothe the site.
  • Tea tree oil: Applying tea tree oil that seems to be effective in treating the pain and itch.
  • Onion: Rubbing a fresh piece of onion immediately after the bite may prevent swelling and stinging.
  • Oatmeal: Taking an oatmeal bath may reduce itching.
  • Antihistamines: Taking an antihistamine orally may help to reduce itching and swelling.
  • Nonprescription pain relievers: Taking over the counter (OTC) pain relievers may help to reduce the inflammation.
  • Triple antibiotic ointment: Applying a triple antibiotic ointment to the stings can prevent infection.

How to prevent fire ant bites?

The following measures may be useful to prevent ant bites:

  • Wearing protective clothing such as thick socks and boots while outdoors
  • Avoiding working in or around ant mounds
  • Teaching children to identify and stay away from anthills
  • Using insect repellants to deter fire ants
  • Avoid stamping on fire ant mounds
  • Consider a pest control treatment for your home
  • Get rid of rotten planks over the windows and floors
  • Wearing gloves while gardening
  • Keeping vegetation and mulch at least 12 inches away from the base of the house to forbid the nesting of the ants
  • Making sure that tree branches and shrubbery do not touch the house because ants may use this as runways to enter the house
  • Be cautious around bushes, attics, picnic areas, or garbage containers
  • Remove stones, boards, fallen leaves, logs, and other debris from your yard or garden to prevent nesting of the ants
  • Prevent moist habitats by increasing solar exposure; mowing tall grass or pruning shrubbery may help to increase solar exposure
  • Pour three gallons of boiling water with extreme caution on the ant mound to eliminate about 60% of the ants
  • Take special precautions while cleaning up after a disaster, as the usual treatment for fire ants are not practical

When to contact the doctor?

Rush to the emergency room if you observe the following symptoms after a bite of fire ant:

  1. Sudden difficulty breathing
  2. Difficulty swallowing
  3. Nausea or vomiting
  4. Dizziness
  5. Rapid heartbeat
  6. Hives
  7. Swelling of the lips, eyelids, or throat
  8. Confusion
  9. Loss of consciousness

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References
https://www.webmd.com/allergies/fire-ant-stings

https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-insect-bites/basics/art-20056593

https://www.uaex.edu/publications/pdf/FSA-7052.pdf

http://fireant.tamu.edu/files/2011/12/FAPFS023_2002rev_Medical.pdf

https://scdhec.gov/health/diseases-conditions/insect-or-animal-borne-disease/fire-ant-sting

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