Red fire ants live in mounds and to protect their abode, they sting aggressively when they sense an intruder. The sting is quite painful and causes an allergic reaction to the skin like redness, itching, and even swelling. If you are not wearing proper clothes and protective shoes, there are higher chances of incurring a sting. Therefore, before going into ant prone areas, you should know the symptoms and treatment for fire ant stings.
Several species of stinging ants are called fire ants. These ants bite when disturbed, and the bite causes allergies or skin problems. The two most problematic species in America are the following:
- Solenopsis Invicta: This is a native South American species and is found in about 13 states in the United States. They are not more than half an inch in size and are red or brownish. It is better known as Red imported fire ant. A group of red imported fire ants stun their prey with venom and can overcome much larger animals like box turtles.
- Solenopsis Richteri: It is a native South American species better known as Black imported fire ant. These are not as widespread as the red fire ants and are mostly found on the Gulf Coast and the Southeast.
Both the species in variable defend their mounds and bite intruders in large groups. Gardeners, children playing outdoors, and pets are most often bitten by these ants. Once these ants start attacking, they do not stop until the intruder has left the mound. Fire ants attack feet and legs when people step on their mounds. These ants are feared since, unlike other species, they sting multiple times.
Allergic reaction to fire ant stings
When a fire ant stings, it usually causes an allergic reaction in the form of blisters. Some people develop a severe reaction that may include swelling, burning, or itching. These symptoms develop within a few minutes after being bitten. In rare cases, life-threatening condition like anaphylaxis also occurs.
A few severe symptoms would need immediate medical help. If untreated, it could put the victim in a state of shock. The symptoms that need immediate medical attention are as follows:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Tongue or throat swelling
- Loss of consciousness
Home remedies for fire ant stings
Home remedies work fine for most people unless they are allergic to ant stings. The following are quick remedies that can reduce the effects of fire ant bites in a few minutes:
- Apply a cold compress to the swollen area for 20 minutes followed by a 20-minute break. Repeat the process.
- To relieve yourself from the itching, use hydrocortisone cream.
- Antihistamine drug is a good option to reduce allergic reactions and itching.
- To prevent infection in the sting, apply a triple antibiotic ointment. This is especially important in case you have scratched the stung area.
- You can also take an oatmeal bath to bring down the itchy feeling.
- Keep the affected area raised until the treatment for fire ants stings is provided. This keeps the swelling in check.
- Remove dirt and debris from the affected area by bathing it with soapy water. This reduces the chances of infection.
- Do not scratch or pop the blisters. This would open the blisters, increasing chances of infection. Be calm and wait for the swelling to subside.
- Note that if the affected area is leaking pus or it has become discolored, it is an indication of infection. Seek medical attention immediately in such a case.
Medical remedies or treatment for fire ants stings
In the case of severe allergic reaction to fire ant sting, you might require medical treatment. One of the severe conditions would include breathing difficulties, unconsciousness, or heavy swelling. Such emergencies are treated using epinephrine which can reverse the reaction.
In the case of an anaphylactic reaction, a few doctors recommend keeping with you an EpiPen. This is nothing but a device to inject epinephrine immediately after another sting attack. Such devices can prove to be life-saving in case of another allergic reaction when medical help is not nearby.
Ant sting reactions do not last more than a couple of days. In case the symptoms persist, seek medical treatment for fire ants stings. If you are suffering from intense pain and swelling and the redness is spreading to other areas, contact the nearest doctor as soon as possible. Depending on the cause, you will be recommended hydrocortisone cream or injection to alleviate the reaction. Antibiotics may also be prescribed in case your sting has got infected.
Treatment for fire ants stings could be as simple as a cold compress and as complex as taking medication. Nonetheless, take precaution when in ant prone areas and wear protective clothes and shoes. Keep in mind the things that need to be avoided. Also, do not wait to seek medical attention in case the condition worsens. Along with itching, swelling and pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and spreading of redness should be considered as red flags.