What Are the Treatments for Fire Ant Bites?

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Fire ants are a very aggressive insect found in the southeastern United States. Their bites are especially painful because the bites insert venom into the skin. If you disturb their nest, fire ants will swarm onto your legs and feet and attack with painful stings. The stings will immediately turn red and begin itching. Later the bites can develop into blisters called pustules. The best advice when dealing with fire ants is avoid them so you don't get stung, but if you do get stung, there are several things you can do to treat the bites.

Removal of the Ants

The first step in treating fire ant bites is to get the ants off your skin. If you've ever stepped in a fire ant bed, you know that you can have lots of ants all over your feet and legs in no time. When they start biting, they cling to the skin. Jumping around, shaking your legs, or even spraying them with water won't get them all off. You have to wipe them off with your hands or a towel.

Clean the Bites

Wash the stings with soap and water and rinse thoroughly. This will help remove any venom and help prevent later infection.

For Pain

Fire ant bites hurt, but applying ice or a cold compress helps reduce swelling and pain. Applying a mixture of half bleach and half water to the bites also helps reduce pain and may help prevent pustules from forming.

For Itching

Apply a topical corticosteroid, such as 1% hydrocortisone cream, or a topical anti-itch ointment. Aloe vera can be used as a natural anti-itching solution. Oral antihistamines, such as Benadyl or Claritin, are also helpful in relieving the itching.

For Severe Reactions

Some people will have a life-threatening allergic reaction to fire ant stings called anaphylaxis. If you experience chest pain, severe swelling, trouble breathing, faintness, or nausea after an ant bite, you should seek medical help right away. If you have had a previous severe allergic reaction to an insect bite and carry an epinephrine pen, use it at the first sign of an allergic reaction and then call 911 or go to the emergency room.

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