Fire Ant Frustrations
We live in the South, so it's happened to us all. We are out at a barbeque, picnic, gardening, etc. and all of a sudden, ouch! Fire ants! You didn't even notice you've been standing on their hill for a while now, and they are not having any of it! There first striking spot, your feet. So what can you do to ease the pain of the inevitable fire ant bites?
Fire Ant Bites and Your Feet
Firstly, clean the entire area with warm water and soap. This will cut down on the chances of nasty bacteria getting in those fresh bite wounds. Definitely do not scratch the bite, even though the temptation is great, scratching is the number one way that fire ant bites get infected, which can lead to scarring. Any wound on the foot is especially dangerous for diabetics, in fact, the number one reason diabetics are admitted to US hospitals is foot infections! Diabetics should seek immediate medical attention to any wound they receive, fire ant bites included.
Secondly we need to get a handle on the swelling caused by the fire ant venom. Unattended this swelling can cause painful irritation while walking and just wearing shoes in general. Topically we can use any steroid cream such as hydrocortisone. Also, any oral antihistamine can be helpful as well. Try not to irritate the bites. To reduce the swelling associated with ant bites you can apply a light compressive dressing such as ace bandage or compression hose to the area for several days. Ice can also be used 20 minutes on 1 hours off.
Be mindful of possible allergic reactions to the bite, which can be fatal if left untreated. Possible signs of an allergic reaction include nausea, chest pain, severe sweating, loss of breath, serious swelling, and slurred speech. If any of these symptoms arise seek immediate medical attention. People with previous allergic reactions to other insect bites will be at increased risk of an allergic reaction to fire ant bites.
So have fun this summer, barbeque, picnic, and garden to your heart's content, just keep an eye open for our not so friendly neighbors underfoot.