There is nothing worse than having a beautiful day enjoying the outdoors ruined by stepping in a pile of fire ants! Ouch! Then days of itching that follow…..
Fire ants actually do not bite, they sting. The fire ant pinches you then injects a toxic alkaloid venom called solenopsin. This sting results in a welt, sometimes quite large! Fire ants sting over 20 million people in the U.S. every year. Some people can have severe allergic reactions to them. Others, especially those with diabetes or a compromised immune system, can end up in the hospital with a secondary infection due to a fire ant sting.
What should you do when a fire ant stings you?
- If you have ever had a true allergic reaction to fire ant bites, seek medical attention immediately.
- Fire ant toxin is 95% non-water soluble so washing the area is a waste of time. The best thing to do is massage (not scratch) the area gently with either lime juice or baking soda plaster. Alcohol or peroxide can help as well but not as effective.
- Scratching is bad! It can spread the toxin to non-damaged skin and make your pain and suffering worse!
- Apply a baking soda plaster or even just toothpaste to the area.
- Take Benadryl to help with the itch and the reaction to the toxin.
- After a few hours, gently exfoliate the top off the pustule and then cleanse with soap and water.
- Apply a topical antibiotic to the area.
- Watch for increasing redness, swelling, or streaking that may indicate an infection. If this occurs, seek medical attention.
What does an allergic reaction to fire ant bites look like? Severe allergic reactions can be deadly! Seek immediate medical attention if you experience severe chest pain, sweating, slurred speech, shortness of breath, extreme swelling, or profound nausea.
Most people just put up with the sting and burn of fire ant bites. Hopefully some of these tips will help ease your pain the next time you fall victim to the nasty red ant!