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When a fire ant bites, it injects venom into the skin, which can cause swelling and itching. In most cases, this reaction is not severe but can be painful and annoying. Sometimes people have allergic reactions to fire ant venom and the consequences can be deadly. Treatment for fire ant bites includes managing the pain, caring for the skin blisters to prevent infection, and seeking immediate medical assistance if an allergic reaction occurs.
As soon as the insect bite is felt, it is very important to quickly scan for other ants on the body. Fire ants have a tendency to swarm, and the chance of getting multiple stings is quite high. Immediately remove all ants from your skin and clothing. Flooding the bitten area with cool water will help relieve some of the initial pain. Wash the affected area to make sure dirt and germs won't initiate an infection.
A pain reliever such as ibuprofen may be taken for pain relief and to reduce swelling of the bites. An initial skin blister will likely develop, which then fills with a thick fluid over the period of a few days. Itching may be intense, but it is important not to scratch the bites or they might become infected. A hydrocortisone ointment may be applied for itching and swelling.
It also helps to keep the affected limb elevated, if possible, and to apply ice packs as needed. The pain and itching from these bites can last for a few days, and it can take weeks for the wounds to heal completely. Diabetics who get bitten on the foot may encounter complications due to poor circulation, which increases the chance of infection and prolongs recovery time.
If an allergic reaction occurs, it is most likely to happens within a short time after receiving the bites. Warning signs of an allergic reaction include trouble breathing, swelling around the face and lips, sudden abdominal cramps, and shock. Medical help should be sought immediately if an allergic reaction is suspected.
To avoid fire ant bites, wear protective footwear when walking in grass or around anthills. Fire ants are not overly aggressive unless their mound is threatened. Accidentally stepping on or sitting on a fire ant mound is one of the most common reasons for being attacked. Keep yards clear of anthills so children aren't tempted to play with them. Taking steps to prevent these ants from biting is one way to prevent the suffering and aggravation one would have to endure if bitten.
@ Cougars- It sounds like your fiancée had an infection at the site of the ant bite. Fire ant bites are horrible, and I had similar symptoms when I was bitten. I went to the doctor and I was told to apply an antibiotic cream to the bite. The infection cleared up in a couple of days.
While playing disc golf in the desert my fiancée and I were bitten by red fire ants. I was bitten three times and she was bitten twice. I can honestly say that red fire ant bites are one of the worst insect bites I have had because the itching lasts so long.
They also affect people differently. My fiancée was bitten on the thigh and it turned into a swollen, bruised, and blistered area the size of a grapefruit. The bruising did not go away for almost two weeks, and the bite was still evident almost a month later. She said it was the most painful insect bites she has ever had.
As for me, I had an itchy welt for about a week. It eventually turned into a small blister, but it was not nearly as bad as her bite.