Ants are predominantly gentle workers that cause little to no harm directly to the human body, but there are some species of ants that can inflict severe pain, cause allergic reactions and even cause death based on their venom. Fire Ants specifically, are the name given to a specific specie of ants from the solenopsis genus, that inflict severe pain on humans when bitten. These ants can easily be identified by their bright red brown colour and small ½ an inch structure.
In a majority of people, a fire ant bite, though severely painful and itchy, causes no major issue other than redness and swollen skin, but for those that are allergic to this venom, it may cause death. Persons who are allergic to this venom may go into anaphylactic shock, which may cause shortness of breath, swelling of the tongue or throat and low blood pressure, and they may move from being okay to being unable to breathe in a matter of minutes.
There are many ways to treat an ant bite/sting, from home remedies and herbal treatments to more serious medications. It’s important to note that a person suffering from anaphylactic shock should get medical help immediately, as their life depends on it, but for the rest of us, here are 6 treatments for Ant Bites.
1. Lemon Juice – This acidic extract has an alkalizing effect on the body, and works to literally suck the venom from the ant bite out of your skin. Lemons are also extremely potent in antioxidants, which are known for getting rid of free radicals. This in turn prevents a variety of infections and diseases. To use lemon juice for an ant bite, cut a raw lemon in half, and squeeze its juice on the open wound. Use consistently for complete relief of the ant bite.
2. Raw Honey – This is another convenient home remedy for an ant bite, as many people already have natural honey in the home. While known significantly around the world for its beauty and culinary uses, its medical uses are virtually unknown to the average person. It contains antibacterial properties, not to mention its thickness acts as a shield preventing further infection.
To use as an ant bite treatment, apply raw honey to the open wound and leave it on for 15 – 20 minutes, then you can wash it off.
3. Cucumber – Known as a cosmetic treatment for undereye bags, and a very tasty snack, cucumber is also a very effective treatment for ant bites. Cucumber is composed of 90% water, but its electrolytes and cooling properties are the main reasons it can be used as an ant bite treatment. When applied on the ant bite wound, it immediately reduces the symptoms of itchiness, pain and inflammation, and reduces the swelling and redness as well.
1. Hydrocortisone Cream – While hydrocortisone cream doesn’t necessarily attack the root of the problem, it is touted by doctors as an effective remedy for ant bites. Hydrocortisone cream contains properties that reduce the symptoms of itching and swelling that accompany an ant bite. To use as a treatment for an ant bite, it is recommended that you first apply an ice pack to the wound for 15 minutes, and then apply a small layer of hydrocortisone cream over the area.
2. Antihistamines – These drugs help to treat the symptoms of an ant bite by stopping the release of histamines in the body. Histamine are a natural compound released by the body’s immune system as a defense mechanism to rid your body of whatever allergen is present. In doing this, they may cause other effects such as the swelling and burning associated with ant bites. Taking an antihistamine will in turn help your body to manage removing this venom from your system without all the painful side effects.
3. Antibiotic Ointment – An antibiotic is anything that hinders and impedes the growth of bad bacteria and kills them. An antibiotic ointment is a highly effective treatment for ant bites because it prevents the wound from becoming infected, which virtually helps the wound to heal faster. Many antibiotics are available over the counter at your local drugstore, and can be applied topically as an ant bite treatment.
Ant Bite Prevention
While treating an ant bite is essential, wouldn’t it be great to not have one in the first place? There are many different methods of preventing an ant bite, whether indoor or outdoors. It’s also important to note that children and pets are more susceptible to fire ant bites, as they don’t know the danger they face, so keeping fire ants at bay may be the best and most strategic thing to do.
Ways to prevent fire ant bites include:
- Ant Repellent Spray – Whether using a store bought or a diy home remedy, a repellent spray can significantly reduce the ability for you or your loved ones to get an ant bite. Simply spray this repellent on openings in the home such as window sills, doors and doorways.
- Destroy the Mound – If you come into contact with a fire ant mound, don’t just leave it to chance. It’s very simple to destroy the mound, (including the Queen) by heating a kettle of water and pouring it into the mound. This rids your home and outdoors of fire ants once and for all.
- Protective Clothing – Wearing thick protective clothing, (socks/gloves) when gardening can also significantly reduce your chances of getting an ant bite, so remember to cover up when you’re heading out.
While most fire ant bites are easily healed in a couple of days, both the home remedies and medical remedies above can speed up your body’s natural healing process, and keep the wound from becoming infected. For persons that have severe allergies to insect bites, and specifically fire ant venom, “prevention is better than cure.” It is much easier to prevent these bites in the first place, with the simple methods listed above, than to be reactive in the moment.
Children must be protected as well as pets from these ant bites, so don’t forget to take the preventative measures into consideration, then action. Ant bites can be dangerous and deadly, but they can also be easily treated, so next time you encounter a fire ant, simply run to your kitchen and find one of these home remedies, or to your medicine cabinet for medicinal treatments.