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Treatments for Ant Bites

Updated November 21, 2016

Most people have been bitten by ants at some point in their lives. They may have found themselves standing unknowingly on top of an unseen mound, or sitting near a spot of ant activity unaware that they were disturbing the nest. Ants are so tiny most people don't even realise they are crawling all over their shoes, socks and legs until the first bite hits them. Once the venom is under the skin, it is important to know how to neutralise the acid and properly treat the bite.

Bites

Many times people are unaware of the presence of ants until they feel the burning sensation of an ant bite. This is caused by the acid in the ant's venom. When you feel the sting, immediately brush the ants from your skin. With many species, the jaws will keep the insect anchored into your flesh, so it is impossible to simply shake them off.

Treatment

Once you have got rid of the ants, wash the affected area with soap and water. Many forms of ant venom are not soluble; therefore further treatment is generally required. Once the area has been cleaned, wipe the bites gently with isopropyl alcohol and allow the area to dry. Then make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the injured site and cover with a loose strip of gauze. Reapply as often as necessary. It may take up to week for ant bites to clear up. If you don't happen to have any baking soda on hand, you can substitute crushed aspirin or meat tenderizer.

Afterward

When the wounded area has been cleaned and treated, take an over-the-counter allergy medication and place cold packs on top of the gauze strips. This will help to reduce any residual swelling. In some instances, intensely itchy pustules will develop at the bite sites. Do not scratch, rub, or pick at these blisters as they are prone to infection.

Warning

As with bees and other stinging insects, there is always the possibility of an ant venom allergy. Be on the lookout for indications of an allergic reaction, including difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, difficulty speaking, incoherence, nausea, vomiting, excessive swelling or dizziness.

Prevention

The simplest treatment for an ant bites is to avoid getting them in the first place. To minimise your odds of coming into contact with ants, avoid wearing fruit-scented perfumes or lotions when you're planning to spend the day outdoors. Also, try not to wear open-toed shoes or brightly coloured clothing and watch where you walk, sit or stand to avoid coming into contact with an ant hill.

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About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.