Fire ants are aggressive little creatures that seem to get a kick out of stinging humans. Individual bites may not be high on the pain scale, but when you’re bit by hundreds of these pests, you feel like your entire body is on fire.
A fire ant sting doesn’t require immediate medical attention, but there are natural ways to calm the inflammation and pain, and treat the fire ant bits eventually.
Table of Contents
- 5 Home Remedies for Fire Ant Bites
- 2 Conventional Treatments for Fire Ant Bites
Why Do Fire Ant Bites Hurt?
Fire ants are unique creatures in the ant kingdom. Most ants bite, and then spray acid onto the wound.
Fire ants bite you just to get a grip on your skin, and then sting you from their abdomen. These ants inject an alkaloid venom known as Solenopsin. This venom is a compound found in piperidines.
Given the contents of the venom, it’s no surprise that one sting from these ants makes your skin feel like it’s on fire.
How to Treat Fire Ant Bites Naturally?
Fire ant bites hurt, and this is because they contain a minimum of 46 proteins in their venom that makes their bites sting. The first thing you’ll notice when stung by a fire ant is the burning sensation. Stings progress into red welts shortly after. And unlike bees, fire ants will keep stinging you repeatedly until you remove them.
Over time, fire ant bites become small blisters.
The severity of the bite really depends on your sensitivity to the venom. Most people will develop itchy bumps that look like single lumps and localized hives. Unlike other insect bites, these bumps will disappear in a few hours.
Fire ant bites may look like pimples, and they may fill with pus. Since these ants roam in clusters, you’ll often suffer from multiple bites at once.
The initial sting burns, but then the itching and blisters present.
Treatment is often not required unless you do have an allergic reaction to the bites. In most cases, the bites will heal on their own without an issue.
If you do have an allergic reaction, you may experience one of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swollen tongue
- Swelling in the throat
In severe cases, a person that is allergic to fire ant bites may lose consciousness. A trip to the doctor or emergency room is in your best interest if you experience any of the signs of an allergic reaction.
We recommend looking at fire ant bite images to make sure that you actually have fire ant bites.
When these bites heal, they can leave scars. That’s why it’s important to treat bites as quickly as possible to prevent scarring.
Not sure what to put on fire ant bites? We’re going to share some popular natural remedies.
First, let’s cover a few basics:
- Make sure that you wash the sting with warm, soapy water to remove bacteria and help prevent infection.
- Avoid scratching the bite – no matter how bad it gets – because scratching can make the swelling worse or spread bacteria.
- Apply an antibacterial cream on to the bite after washing. This will allow you to avoid any risk of the bite becoming infected.
- Bandage the bite with the topical cream applied first. Bandages will often stop bacteria from reaching the wound, and there’s also less risk of your scratching the bite if it’s been bandaged properly.
Keeping the bite clean and avoiding scratching can help boost the healing process. Many of the treatments we’re going to discuss also help alleviate itching.
5 Home Remedies for Fire Ant Bites
Natural home remedies allow you to treat fire ant bites minus the harsh side effects that often come along with conventional medication treatments.
Remember, most bites can be treated at home. The only exception is if you have a fire ant allergy (seek medical help if you do).
Thankfully, there are many remedies to treat fire ant stings.
1. Essential Oils for Fire Ant Bites
Essential oils are potent, natural treatments for just about any ailment. When it comes to bug bites and stings, these oils can be used to alleviate pain, itching, and swelling to help speed up the healing process.
Essential oils should not be applied directly to the bite. Dilute them with a carrier oil for best results. Carrier oils include: coconut, olive, apricot, jojoba, sweet almond, etc.
Some of the top essential oils for fire ant stings include:
Lavender is a calming herb, and its perfumed scent comes from its potent essential oils in the stem and leaves.
Lavender is both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. These two properties help the body heal minor bites and stings from fire ants. The herb’s calming properties also soothe itching and pain, making it easier to leave the bite alone and heal.
When cold weather kicks in, nothing beats a soothing cup of peppermint tea. Peppermint cools and eases congestion, and part of the reason it has this effect is because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Peppermint essential oil will bring down the swelling, and even soothe itching.
- Tea Tree
Known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, tea tree essential oil is an effective treatment for fire ant stings.
Antiseptic in nature, tea tree should be your go-to oil for treating fire ant stings – and other bug bites as well.
These three oils are the most effective at treating fire ant stings. You can use them separately, or mix the three together to create a potent treatment.
Remember: Essential oils are incredibly potent, so one or two drops is all you need for each treatment.
For best results, reapply the oil(s) every 2-4 hours.
2. Baking Soda and Water Fire Ant Treatment
Baking soda has a million and one uses around the home. Now you can add fire ant bite treatment to that list.
Baking soda’s antibacterial properties will help keep the bites clean, but this natural substance can also soothe itching.
To make this homemade treatment:
- Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with just enough water to make a paste.
Apply the paste to your fire ant bites, and allow it to sit for 20-30 minutes. Reapply the paste as necessary until the swelling and itching stops.
3. Benzoyl Peroxide (i.e. OTC Acne Medication)
Many people have found success at treating fire ant stings by using acne products that contain benzoyl peroxide.
Benzoyl peroxide is highly effective at getting rid of acne, and helps keep the pores free of dirt, bacteria, and other toxins. This effect is likely what makes this treatment so effective for fire ant bites.
Because acne products can penetrate the skin, it can get deep down into the fire ant sting to oxidize and neutralize the toxins.
Ice is your best friend when fire ant stings start swelling. The cooling sensation helps alleviate swelling and will numb the bite to make it less itchy.
Create an ice pack, and place a cloth between the skin and the ice. Allow the pack to sit for 10 minutes at a time. Take breaks in between sessions.
If you would rather not use ice, you can simply place a cool or cold cloth over the bites.
5. Meat Tenderizer
No, we’re not talking about the spiked club you use to tenderize meat. We’re talking about powdered meat tenderizer – and it’s highly effective at treating stings from the imported fire ant.
Meat tenderizer contains an enzyme known as papain, which has been tested for its therapeutic effectiveness against fire ant stings.
Sprinkle some meat tenderizer on the sting to keep it from progressing.
6. Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
Baking soda and lemon juice are two of the best ingredients to stop the pain that comes with a fire ant bite. These two substances work together very well, and there’s a good chance that you have both ingredients in your home.
Lemon juice, ideally from a fresh lemon, can be squeezed on the ant bite and help relieve the stinging.
Apple cider vinegar will work just as well as lemon, so you can use it if you don’t have a lemon handy. Apply small amounts of either substance on the bite as needed.
Baking soda works well, too.
Add a small amount of baking soda into a bowl and then add a small amount of water. Mix the two ingredients until it forms a paste. Adding too much water will not allow the paste to form, so add water very slowly.
If you did add too much water, add in more baking soda to thicken the mixture.
Apply the paste on to the bites and relief will quickly follow.
2 Conventional Treatments for Fire Ant Bites
If you prefer the conventional route, there are several treatments available for fire ant stings, and many of these treatments work for other bug bites as well.
Many experts recommend keeping the bitten areas elevated if possible. Keeping the area elevated will help naturally reduce the swelling.
Next, apply a treatment to help heal the stings.
1. Hydrocortisone Cream
Hydrocortisone cream can be purchased in any drug store and is conventionally used to treat several skin conditions, including fire ant stings, eczema, poison ivy, allergies, rashes, dermatitis and more.
The active ingredients in this cream reduce itching, swelling, and redness. Classified as a mild corticosteroid, hydrocortisone cream is one of the most popular conventional treatments for bug bites.
Antihistamines are often taken to help treat allergies, but they can help treat fire ant stings as well.
These medications can be purchased over the counter, and include: Chlor-Trimeton, Benadryl, etc.
Take the antihistamine as directed. If you have allergies or live in an area where there is a risk of insect bites, an antihistamine is great to have in your cabinet.
If you notice intense swelling or your symptoms do not disappear within a few hours, seek medical attention right away. While rare, humans can also be allergic to fire ant venom. In extremely rare cases, people are severely allergic to fire ant stings, and go into a state of anaphylactic shock after being bit.
For most people, the bites will disappear on their own in just a few days. The natural treatments listed above can help prevent scarring and may speed up the healing process.
Once you have treated the bites properly, it’s time to take action and get rid of your fire ant infestation. These ants are difficult to get rid of completely, so you’ll want to either hire an exterminator or use a commercial product to kill the colony.
But if you just started seeing fire ants, you may be able to use all-natural methods to kill off fire ants.
Diatomaceous earth is one form of a natural ant killer that will get rid of your fire ant problem, but it takes time to kill off a colony. Kill the colony and treat your yard to keep new fire ant colonies from forming. Otherwise, you may be dealing with fire ant bites again in the future.