3 Ways to Identify a Fire Ant Bite

May 7th 2016

Mild sting reactions from fire ants can be treated by washing the bite with soap and water before bandaging it. Ice may help to reduce the pain, while topical steroid creams help to reduce itching. Most fire ant bites disappear within a week. Individuals with severe reactions should consult with a medical professional immediately to determine appropriate treatments.

Identify the Insect

People who suspect they have been bitten by a fire ant should seek to identify the insect first. Fire ants often have a red-brown or black quarter and are about a quarter of an inch in length. Fire ants gather in pastures and grassy areas and build nests similar to anthills, yet their nests do not have a single entrance. Fire ants are aggressive and can often swarm when disturbed, biting and stinging repeatedly.

Investigate the Bite

It is unlikely for people to experience just one fire ant bite. Fire ants typically sting multiple times, leaving bright red bumps commonly on the feet and legs. Bites are small and circular and often swell into little red lumps that are similar to small blisters. The blisters may appear to have pus inside, but the fluid is dead tissue from the skin. The bumps and blisters are often itchy and painful and can last for a week or longer for people with normal reactions. Severe reactions can produce additional symptoms.

Learn the Symptoms

The most common symptom of a fire ant bite is the painful sting that occurs immediately. People often feel a sting or pinch right away. Most fire ant bites develop itchy, small lumps that swell for approximately 30 to 60 minutes. A small fluid-filled blister may develop within eight to 24 hours at the site of the bite. Extreme symptoms are often rare but can include allergic reactions accompanied by hives, nausea or diarrhea; abdominal cramping; and dizziness. Some people may also have trouble breathing, notice swelling of the throat or tongue and tightness in the chest. These life-threatening symptoms require immediate medical attention. People allergic to fire ant bites should carry an EpiPen to administer an immediate epinephrine shot into the body.

Conclusion

Fire ants are tiny insects that can cause extreme pain to the skin and body. This aggressive ant has a sharp stinger on the rear portion of its body and pinching mandibles on the head. Disturbing a nest of fire ants intentionally or unintentionally can lead to multiple stings from fire ants that can lead to painful bites. Identifying the symptoms and signs of a fire ant bite can help victims recover from these painful attacks.

Sources

AOCD.org "Fire ant bites" http://www.aocd.org/?page=FireAntBites
WebMD.com "Fire ant stings" http://www.webmd.com/allergies/fire-ant-stings
Healthline.com "The burning sting of fire ants" http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/fire-ant-bites

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