There are two stages in which the fire ant bites. First, when it bites you, and second, when it injects the poisonous toxin called solenopsin in your body. The experience is very painful and the burning sensation is too much to handle. Therefore, treatment should be taken as soon as possible without any delay.
First Aid Treatment for Fire Ant Bites
The treatment for fire ant bites and the complications related to it, depend upon the fact whether the fire ant has just bitten, or injected the poison too! If one manages to remove the ant as soon as it is noticed, and doesn’t give the fire ant a chance to inject the poison, the complications could be reduced. The treatment also depends on the immunity system and specific allergies people are prone to. Here is what you need to do.
1. REMOVE THE ANT IMMEDIATELY
Fire ants are known for their aggressive nature. Therefore, to prevent further damage, it is a must to remove the ant as soon as possible. Do not do this with bare hands as the ant might end up biting you, and worse, inject the venom! Kill the ant if you have to, but get rid of the ant and the place as soon as possible. The reason why you should get away from the ant holes is because like all other ants, even fire ants are known for their unity. So, if one ant ends up biting you, the rest of them will take no time to reach you, and of course, start biting you all over.
2. WASH THE AFFECTED AREA
Wash the bitten area using warm water and antibacterial soap. While doing so, try to squeeze out some venom from the bite. It is also a good idea to wash with a solution of bleach and water in equal parts. If you can take the pain, then you can clean it with alcohol to make sure that the ruptured site is completely disinfected. Application of betadine is also really effective for this purpose. If betadine is not available, then use a solution of hydrogen peroxide. But make sure that you do the cleaning as soon as possible without any delay, preferably within 10 minutes after the bite.
3. DO NOT SCRATCH
The venom of the fire ant spreads immediately and causes immense burning and itching sensation. So, yes, fire ants are called so, not only because of their aggressive looks and behavior, but also because of the fact that when they sting, the pain and the burning and the itching, can bring you down to hell! The itching is immense, but you have to make sure that no matter what happens, you should never scratch. You can vigorously rub the area, but the scratching will make the infection spread to a wider area, making it all the more difficult to heal. Oral antihistamine like Benadryl can help reduce swelling and itching as well!
4. APPLY ANTISEPTIC CREAM
Another important step to prevent, or minimize the burning and itching sensation, is to immediately apply an antiseptic cream on the bitten area. Applying a topical corticosteroid cream like 1% Hydrocortisone would help reduce the fire ant bite swelling and itching as well. If you don’t have that available with you, then you can make a paste of meat tenderizer powder and water, and apply it on the skin surface. A thick layer of aspirin and water paste also proves to be of help to minimize the infection and pain. Cold compressions also keep the pain and swelling at bay.
5. DO NOT RUPTURE THE PUSTULE!!
NEVER ever rupture the pustule even if it gives you a lot of trouble! This is because if you end up scratching too hard and rupturing the pustule, the bacteria might spread and create a larger infection. In case you have accidentally ruptured the pustule , wash the area properly with antiseptic soap as soon as you have ruptured the blister and apply topical antibacterial cream, that will help.
Some Remedies for Treating Fire Ant Bites
The 5 first aid treatment steps mentioned above are a must when it comes to effectively dealing with the venom injected by the fire ant. Nevertheless, mentioned below are some effective remedies for healing the infection.
⇨ Application of tea tree oil on the bitten area will also help remove toxins not only from ant bites but also other insect bites.
⇨ A thick coating of aloe vera paste or aloe vera juice also helps in subsiding the infection and promotes healing quickly.
⇨ You can also apply a thick paste of aspirin over the infected area, this seems to work even after 24 hrs from the ant bite.
⇨ Application of USDA grade peppermint oil or lavender oil repeatedly on the affected area can also prove beneficial for fire ant bites swelling.
⇨ Take a warm water bath with 2-3 cups of 20 mule team borax and wash the infected area with it. Borax is a mineral boron and helps withdraw the venom from the skin.
Symptoms of Severe Fire Ant Bites
According to studies, about 15% people are allergic to fire ant bites. It is very rare, but yes, people have even died due to delay in the treatment. If you notice the following symptoms, seek medical advice without any delay. The red fire ants have been named so, not only because of their color red, but also because of their fiery nature. These little, tiny crawling creatures can attack anything that comes their way without any prior alarm! Hence, it is advisable to keep away from these ants as the fire ant bites can lead to a lot of complications.
⇨ Pain in the chest.
⇨ Excess swelling with redness.
⇨ Loss of breath.
⇨ Excessive sweating.
⇨ Slurred speech.
⇨ Sickness and nausea.
⇨ Any symptom that shows high degree of infection.
Prevention from Fire Ant Bites
Prevention is better than cure. So, here are a few details that you can take a note of, to save yourself from the trouble and pain.
⇨ Stay away from fire ants and their nests.
⇨ Keep your legs and arms covered so that the fire ant doesn’t get a chance to sting you. Wear long, Teflon-coated boots with talcum powder.
⇨ Keep a fire ant killer spray handy all the times.
⇨ Remove the fire ant from your body as soon as you see it walking, so that the ant doesn’t get a chance to bite and sting!
If the above treatments do not prove to be of help, medical advice should be taken immediately, or else, the delay may worsen the situation. Take care.