Anyone who has been stung by a fire ant readily testifies to the fact that the sting causes quite a bit of pain accompanied by a burning feeling and itchy skin. A particularly disturbing aspect of the fire ant is that the insect's tendency is to sting a person several times. Reactions typically last for several hours to several days.
Although most people are not allergic to the fire ant's venom, an allergic reaction can result in a serious condition called anaphylaxis. A person experiencing a severe reaction to a fire ant's sting needs to go to the emergency room right away. A severe allergic reaction may include difficulty swallowing, dizziness, trouble breathing or vomiting. Treatment may include a prolonged series of injections containing the fire ant's venom.
Fire ants are natives of South America but have infiltrated the southeastern area of the United States. The venom emitted by a group of fire ants is strong enough to kill a turtle. People are typically stung by fire ants when they step on their mounds. Since the average person is unable to distinguish a fire ant mound from another ant mount, the best way to prevent getting stung by a fire ant is to avoid all ant mounds.
People who are not allergic to the venom emitted by fire ants should take the following 10 steps after they are stung:
- Sterilize the wound with warm, soapy water. Applying hydrogen peroxide can help eliminate bacteria from the wound. Apply hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
- Place several ice cubes in a washcloth.
- Wrap the washcloth filled with ice in a zippered plastic storage bag.
- Apply the ice to the sting for 15 to 20 minutes. If ice is not unavailable, use a bag of frozen vegetables.
- Remove the ice for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Reapply and remove the ice for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.
- Do not apply heat to the area that was stung.
- If itching is causing a problem, apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. Another remedy for itching skin is to apply a paste made with baking soda and water. Baking soda may also help to reduce redness that occurs in the area of the sting. If baking soda is unavailable, apply white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to soothe the area.
- If the itching persists, a doctor can write a prescription for an antihistamine.
- If possible, elevate the affected area.
Preventing a fire ant sting is always better than getting stung. Contact Hart Pest Control if fire ant mounds exist on the premises. Exterminators at Hart Pest Control can help resolve fire ant issues.