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What to Do if You Get Bit and Stung by Fire Ants

What to Do if You Get Bit and Stung by Fire Ants

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Scientifically known as Solenopsis invicta, fire ants are tiny, aggressive and can bite and sting you at the same time. Here’s the best treatment following an attack, per doctors.

Like bees and hornets, fire ants have a stinger that they’ll use to protect themselves or their nest. They actually bite you to hold themselves against your body and then sting you with their back end. Unlike some bees, fire ants don’t lose their stinger after an attack. They put the stinger in and will pump in as much venom as they can.

In general, the result of an attack will cause a localized reaction. Fire ant bites can cause significant swelling, burning, and stinging in the skin. Most people end up with a little pimple-like bump or pustule, while some people don’t react at all.

But, as with all insect stings, it’s possible to be allergic to the venom and even develop anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening reaction.

How to treat a fire ant bite/sting

If you have any symptoms of an allergic reaction, like excessive itching, sweating, redness, swelling or shortness of breath, it’s important to seek emergency medical care right away. But if you’re just experiencing moderate swelling and pain, there are a few steps you can take at home:

Get the ants off of you: A fire ant will stay put until it’s done and will continue to sting/bite you if you don’t get it (and the others) off your skin.

Wash up: Gently lather up the area with antibacterial soap and water.

Cool the area down: Icing the sting/bite site for five to 10 minutes will reduce the inflammation. If the area is still inflamed, apply a hydrocortisone cream two/three times a day.

Use an over the counter medicine: If the site is Itchy and swollen taking an antihistamine such as Benadryl can help. If you experience inflammation and still feel some pain, you can also take an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like Tylenol.

If needed check in with a doctor: Your skin may be red and bumpy for a few days afterward, but if you have significant swelling or pain, or the area where you were attacked starts to ooze pus or forms an ulcer, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with a doctor to avoid a nasty infection.

The article is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Contact your physician to discuss a plan that is right for you.

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