Fire ants originated in Brazil, but have become established in the US, spreading throughout the southern states. Fire ants are certainly well named as they are famed for their searingly painful bite. I say bite, but it is actually a sting that causes the pain. The fire ant will bite down with its mandibles, anchoring its body, before injecting venom through its stinger attached at the end of its abdomen. A sting by fire ant causes severe pain that is short-lived, but the pain is replaced by long lasting itching that may be intense. In rare cases, fire ants can cause death in humans  as the toxin is similar in chemistry to a bee or wasp sting and may cause an allergic reaction. Unlike most ants whose venom is formic acid, the fire ant venom is alkaline and the fire ant bite treatments below reflect this important fact. If you need fire ant bite treatment, then take a look at our home remedies for fire ant bites as they will neutralize the venom and reduce the inflammation and itching.
Fire ants attack en masse, in huge numbers to hunt their prey or when their nest has been disturbed or is under threat. Each ant will sting multiple times, causing circular clustered lesions on the skin. The ant will rotate in a circle, stinging as it goes, before its venom is exhausted.
The fire ant bit and sting will first show up on the skin as a red welt. The sheer number of ants that may attack can produce multiple red spots that look similar to hives. The red bump will appear after a few hours and then after about a day, the red bump will become a small blister with white pus. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the individual as some are more sensitive to the venom than others.
For most, the red bumps/blisters will just be painful at first and extremely itchy for a few days afterward. It is very important that you resist the temptation to scratch as infections from fire ant bites are very common. Some the of home remedies for fire ant bites included below are anti-bacterial for this reason. The bite area should always be kept as clean as possible. Scratching will also increase the chance that the blisters scar when healed.
For some people, a more severe reaction may occur to the fire ant venom. Swelling around the bite area is common and while swelling that extends beyond the bite area may also occur. If there is a severe allergic reaction, symptoms of fire ant bites may be:
- chest tightness
- breathing difficulty
- swelling of throat and tongue, with difficulty swallowing.
These symptoms of fire ant bite are the first signs of anaphylactic shock and medical attention should be sort immediately as drops in blood pressure, unconsciousness and cardiac arrest may occur.
Fire Ant Bite Treatment
The treatment of fire ant bites is quite simple and has three stages.
- Clean the affected area
- Neutralize the venom with a mild acid
- Reduce Inflammation
Before you get started with using natural remedies, clean the affected area with cold water and soap. For all fire ant bite treatments, you must avoid infection and try to keep the bite blisters that form clean until healed. When you are applying anti inflammatory home remedies for ant bites, you don’t want the remedies mixed up with dirt and bacteria. You want a sterile environment.
When the bite area is clean, you need to neutralize the venom. Most biting ants will inject venom via their mandibles and the venom they inject is formic acid. Any acid can be neutralized with alkaline based solutions such as ammonia and baking soda, and for most ant bites, this is the best treatment.
Fire ants venom, however, is delivered via their stinger on their abdomen similar to a wasp sting, and the venom that is delivered is alkaline. You should not use alkaline based home remedies for fire ant bites. Some alkaline home remedies, such as ammonia and bleach will help break down some of the proteins in the venom and will provide some relief, but they will not lower the PH for instant pain relief. For this, you must use the acid based home remedies listed below.
Indeed, rival ant species such as the crazy ant have worked this out for themselves and use their formic acid to neutralize the fire ants alkaline venom (19). The same principle can be applied with any mild acid.
Finally, when the bite area is clean and the venom is neutralized, you need to apply soothing anti-inflammatory remedies. These will reduce the itching that comes after the initial bite pain has gone. Many of the remedies listed below also are anti-bacterial which will help prevent infection.
Home Remedies for Fire Ant Bites
There are two broad categories of fire ant bite home remedies. Remedies which are acidic that neutralize the alkaloids in the venom, and remedies that relieve inflammation. We have grouped them accordingly:
Acidic home remedies for fire ant bites
1) Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar reduces itching and pain caused by fire ant stings. The acid in the vinegar neutralizes the venom. The anti-bacterial properties of apple cider vinegar prevent infection. If apple cider vinegar is unavailable, any vinegar will work. This is probably the best home remedy for fire ant bites as vinegar contains acetic acid and is fast acting.
Apply apple cider vinegar on the affected areas. Leave it for some time.
2) Lemon Juice
Lemon juice reduces irritation and pain caused by fire ant bites. As the lemon juice contains citric acid, the acid neutralizes the fire ant bite poison which is alkaline in nature.
Take fresh lemon juice and apply it on the affected areas. Wash off after it dries.
Use limes or even orange juice if you have no lemons.
3) Raw Potato
Raw potato is effective in reducing itching and inflammation . It also reduces swelling caused by fire ant stinging as it is mildly acidic (PH= 5-6)
Cut a thin slice of raw potato. Place it on the infected area.
4) Plantain Leaves Extract
Plantain contains mucus and hence has soothing properties . Plantain also possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which cure inflammation. Plantain leaves extract relieves itching. It works both internally and externally. The acidity of plantain will also neutralize the venom.
Extract juice from plantain leaves. Apply the extract on the affected area. Repeat till symptoms subside.
You can also chew plantain leaf for relief.
5) Fruit And Vegetable Juices
Juices of fruits and vegetables soothe itching and reduce swelling caused by the stinging of fire ants. The mild acid in the fruit helps to neutralize the venom. Grape, grapefruit and pineapple juice are particularly acidic, but even tomato juice will work.
Apply the juice on the bitten area and wash off after it dries.
Onion has many health benefits. It aids in treating various skin conditions. Quercetin in onion possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties  that aid in curing itching and swelling. Onion is also an immune booster but it is the sulfenic acid in the onion (which converts to sulphuric acid when it comes in contact with your eyes) which will neutralize the alkaline venom with great effect.
Rub a slice of onion on the affected part, spreading the juice liberally. Leave it for about 30 minutes.
Extract juice from cucumber and apply it on the skin.
8) Raw Honey
Honey possesses antibacterial activity  and moisturizing properties which aid in soothing the skin. Raw honey reduces swelling and itching caused by free ant bites. It also quickens the healing process. Honey is surprisingly acidic (ph=3) and the acidity is one of the reasons why it is anti-bacterial as germs cannot survive at that ph level.
Apply raw honey to the affected skin. Rinse off after 30 minutes in cold water. Repeat if necessary. The best honey to use for fire ant bites is manuka honey as this honey has the lowest PH.
External use of aspirin helps to relieve pain and inflammation caused by fire ant stings. The ph of aspirin when in solution is quite low at 2-3 so it is as acidic as vinegar. Aspirin applied topically will also give mild pain relief as it is analgesic.
Crush some aspirin and add a few drops of water to it. Mix well to make a thin paste. Apply it on the bitten areas. Leave it overnight. Wash with water in the morning.
Anti-Inflammatory home remedies for fire ant bites
10) Ice Pack
To combat fire with ice is pretty obvious. Ice pack relieves you from itching, pain and swelling and feels so soothing when applied.
Wrap ice cubes in a towel and apply it on the affected area for 10 minutes and repeat as necessary.
Add some basil leaves to two cups of boiling water and simmer it for few minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the water to come to room temperature. Filter the basil extract. With a clean cotton cloth apply the extract on the areas of fire ant bites. Repeat it till symptoms improve.
12) Aloe Vera
Since aloe vera possesses anti-inflammatory properties , it aids in soothing the skin and relieving pain and swelling. Aloe vera gel will also help prevent scarring.
Extract gel from aloe vera and apply on the bitten area. Let it dry. Repeat when necessary.
13) Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil possesses anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties  that aid in relieving itching and swelling.
Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a cotton ball. Apply it on the site of stings.
14) Milk paste
Milk paste relieves itching. Enzymes in milk powder help to break down a protein in the venom. Milk is also mildly acidic lowering the ph of the venom.
Mix milk powder and water. Add a pinch of salt and make a thick paste. Apply it on the bites.
15) Olive Oil
Olive oil is effective in treating symptoms associated with fire ant bites.
Take a few drops of cold-pressed olive oil. Apply it on the affected site and massage gently. Repeat it till you find relief.
Olive oil can also be taken internally to boost immunity.
16) Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptol in eucalyptus oil possesses potent antimicrobial properties . It relieves itching caused by stinging.
Pour a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a glass of hot water. Apply it in the affected site. Repeat till itching is reduced.
17) Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil soothes the skin and relieves itching .
Dilute peppermint oil in a mild carrier oil such as olive oil and apply directly on the affected sites.
18) Tea bags
The anti-inflammatory properties of tea bags  relieve itching and swelling caused by fire ant stings. Tea bags also possess powerful antioxidant properties.
Add 3 to 4 tea bags in hot water and steep for a few minutes. Apply the tea bags on the affected site after the bags cool.
Peppermint or methanol in toothpaste provides a cooling effect, which comes as a great relief to those affected by fire ant bites. It reduces itching and swelling.
Apply some toothpaste on the areas of fire ant bites.
Calamine cures inflammation. It has antiseptic properties  and cooling effect. It soothes the skin and cures itching and pain.
Apply calamine on the affected area till itching and pain subside.
21) Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is an amazing remedy for fire ant stings. It absorbs poison and reduces swelling . Hence immediate application of activated charcoal quickens the healing process.
Dampen a cloth and add activated charcoal to it. Press it on the affected area. Let it remain for 30 minutes. Repeat if necessary.
Clay possesses antibacterial and antimicrobial properties . It has a soothing effect on skin, which aids in relieving itching and pain. It extracts toxins from the body.
Add some water to clay and mix well to make a paste. Apply the paste on the affected areas.
Cornstarch soothes irritation and relieves itching.
Make a thick paste using cornstarch and water. Apply it on the site of bites. You can also add apple cider vinegar to cornstarch and apply. Cover with bandage. Wash off after few hours.
24) Witch Hazel
Tannins in witch hazel is an astringent and aids in soothing infection . Witch hazel is also anti-inflammatory thus aiding in reducing itching, pain, and swelling.
Apply witch hazel to the affected area. Wash off after few minutes. Repeat if necessary.
Add oatmeal to lukewarm water in your bathtub. Soak for half an hour. Repeat till you are relieved of itching.
Do and don’ts of fire ant bites
- Act before they multiply. Use our natural remedies to get rid of ants.
- Never go barefooted. Wear boots. You can also tuck your pants into your socks so that your legs are fully covered.
- Know fire ant nests and stay away from them.
- Keep pets away from nest sites
- Never scratch fire ant blisters as they will infect and scar.
- Seek medical attention if there are any severe symptoms from the ant bites as anaphylactic shock can kill.
- Do not use alkaline based treatments that are recommended to neutralize generic ant bites. Most ants’ venom is formic acid. Fire ant venom is not an acid, but an ALKALINE and you must use mild acids in fruit and vinegar etc to neutralize it.