A fiery sting is the best term that describes the bite of a fire ant. Living up to their name, these ants are the color of fire. When you are caught in an army of fire ants, they swarm onto your skin and pack a powerful, fiery sting that can be quite an ordeal! Symptoms of fire ant bites range from mild rashes to allergic reactions like breathing difficulty. Treatment for fire ants’ bite depends on the severity of the sting. You’d be surprised to know that a tiny fire ant can pack a sting that delivers a venom that contains 46 proteins at least!
These ants come in different colors, like red-brown or black, and usually grow up to lengths of a quarter of an inch. They live in sand mounds that are built on lawns and pastures. Fire ants can get very aggressive when their nest is disturbed. If you accidentally disturb their nest, you will probably end up in a burning stream of painful stings. The sting causes pain and itching long after you are bitten by fire ants. Fire ants sting by clamping their mandibles on your skin; hence, it is difficult to remove ants that have actually latched onto you. You need to rub them off your skin with fingers or a rag.
What do Fire Ant Bites Look Like?
When fire ants are provoked, they swarm onto the skin and anchor themselves strongly with their mandibles. Once they latch onto your skin, they sting repeatedly injecting a toxin called solenopsin. Fire ant sting looks like a swollen red spot with a blister on top. Fire ant stings can be painful and itchy for nearly a week. As soon as you are stung by the ant, you will experience an intense pinching or burning sensation. Following this sensation is itching that may last up to a week. Most stings heal by themselves though. Fire ants can sting any part of your body, and the blisters appear within 20 minutes of being bitten by fire ants.
Effects of the Bite
A recent testing of the fire ant venom revealed that it could affect the nervous system. In some cases of severe sting by fire ants, people have experienced hallucinations and other symptoms related to a nervous disturbance.
People who are allergic to fire ant stings develop dangerous reactions to fire ant stings. The areas surrounding the sting swell up immediately and severe itching sets in. Anaphylaxis is not very common in this case but can lead to a life-threatening situation. The following allergic symptoms require immediate medical help:
- Breathing trouble
- Tongue or throat swelling
Any of the above allergic reactions need immediate medical intervention, and if left untreated, they might cause the body to go into a shock.
Treatment for Fire Ant Bites
Mild Fire ant stings might just require a wash and application of ice to soothe the pain. In some cases, treatment for fire ants’ bite might require bandaging after applying some creams or ointments. Topical treatments for stings involve the application of steroid creams and anti-histamine medication available over the counter. One should ensure that the affected area is not scratched, which may cause an infection.
Home remedies are also some of the most effective treatments for fire ants’ bites.
- Applying a cold compress gives instant relief from pain and burning sensation. You can do this several times through the day for better results.
- Apple cider vinegar is an excellent home remedy for fire ant bites. The venom is made of alkaloids and protein. The slightly acidic nature of apple cider neutralizes the venom to a large extent. You can apply unfiltered apple cider vinegar directly on the affected area with a cotton ball. Leave for 30 minutes and then wash off. Dry your skin after washing and apply a mild moisturizer for extended relief.
- Baking soda is another good home remedy for fire ant bite treatment. Mix one teaspoon of soda with water to make a paste. Apply this on the affected area and wash off after 10 minutes.
- Witch-hazel is an effective astringent that can be used for getting relief from itching after a fire ant bite. Apply witch-hazel using a cotton ball and allow it to evaporate. You can repeat this several times in a day for relief.
- Oatmeal is another very effective ingredient for fire ant sting treatment. Soak in a bathtub containing lukewarm water in which the oatmeal is mixed. Repeat this as required for relief from itching and pain.
Steer clear from fire ant nests to stay safe from their fiery bite! Even if you do accidentally provoke an army of fire ants, make sure you make the fastest escape from the spot. If luck doesn’t favor you, and you do get stung by fire ants, follow these simple treatments for fire ants’ bites to feel better.