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First Aid for Fire Ant Stings

Last updated Feb. 25, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Fire ants constitute over 200 species of ants. These red-colored ants are found all over the world, but mostly in the tropics. Fire Ant Stings can be painful and produce allergic reactions in some individuals.

What is Fire Ant Stings?

  • Fire ants constitute over 200 species of ants. These red-colored ants are found all over the world, but mostly in the tropics
  • Fire Ant Stings can be painful and produce allergic reactions in some individuals

What are the Causes of Fire Ant Stings?

  • Fire Ant Stings occur following exposure to the fire ants. The ants are generally non-invasive, but will bite and sting if provoked
  • The alkaloid venom injected by the fire ants is called solenopsin (belonging to piperidine family of compounds)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Fire Ant Stings?

The signs and symptoms of Fire Ant Stings may include:

  • At the area of the sting/bite:
    • Swelling and redness
    • Burning sensation and pain
    • Itchiness
  • This may be followed by the presence of blisters that fill with pus after a few days to a week (3-8 days). Following this, the appearance of scab (dry skin crust) may be noted
  • In case of intense scratching, it may lead to an infection
  • In case of an allergic reaction, the following may be observed:
    • Severe sweating
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Chest pain
    • Swollen throat, which may further lead to swallowing and speaking difficulties
    • Nausea
    • Increased heart rate

The severity of the symptoms also depends on the number of ant bites. 

How is First Aid administered for Fire Ant Stings?

First Aid tips for Fire Ant Stings:

  • Move the individual away from the area of exposure
  • Repeatedly wash the area with soap and water
  • DO NOT use any home remedies/preparations (such as vinegar, soda, etc.) on the affected region
  • Put an icepack or ice wrapped in cloth on the affected area, if the condition is mild
  • Use over-the-counter topical creams; consider applying hydrocortisone cream to the affected areas
  • DO NOT use a tourniquet on the affected area
  • Take antihistamine drug for allergic reactions
  • DO NOT take any pain medications, such as Aspirin, unless recommended by a physician
  • Look out for any signs of infection
  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions

In case of an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), immediately call 911 or your local emergency help number. Until emergency help arrives, the following may be considered:

  • Help the affected individual take medication for allergy reaction, such as epinephrine, if he/she is prescribed the drug and is in possession of the same
  • After injecting epinephrine, give the individual an antihistamine pill
  • Lie down the victim with legs slightly elevated than the head
  • If the victim is vomiting, turn them onto their side
  • If the victim is not breathing or there is no movement, immediately begin CPR
  • If possible, take the insect (or parts of it) to the healthcare facility for proper identification

Who should administer First Aid for Fire Ant Stings?

The individual who is affected, or someone nearby should administer initial first aid, following which one should seek appropriate medical help.

What is the Prognosis of Fire Ant Stings?

  • The prognosis is dependent on the extent of Fire Ant Stings and the severity of allergic reaction, if any
  • In most cases, the prognosis is typically good and the individuals are able to recover within a few hours

How can Fire Ant Stings be Prevented?

Fire Ant Stings may be prevented by:

  • Avoiding being outdoors at night, particularly in forested areas
  • Do not allow children to play near fire ant mounds
  • Use pest control in areas where insects are found in large numbers
  • Use insect repellent such as DEET
  • Wear clothes that cover the entire body while outdoors in the evenings or at nights

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency help number), if the condition is serious
  • Administer antihistamines, if the individual has an allergic reaction

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 28, 2017
Last updated: Feb. 25, 2018