Summer at the shore has arrived. Unfortunately, with the increase in the temperatures comes an increase in the activity of insects. Fire ants are just about everywhere these days, and they can ruin your summer fun. A few simple tips can limit the pain and problems associated with fire ant bites. The first thing you need to do is get as far away from the fire ant colony as possible. This will prevent further bite activity. When you are at a safe distance, try to brush the ants off your feet and legs.
Allergic reactions to fire ant bites are rare but can happen. The signs to look for would be swelling that occurs in areas other than where you were bitten, difficulty breathing, nausea or chest tightness. These signs may be indicative of a medical emergency. If these occur 911 should be contacted immediately.
Most people bitten by fire ants will not experience an allergic reaction, but will instead experience pain, itching and burning at the bite sites. Benadryl may help to minimize these symptoms. Topical application of hydrocortisone cream may be beneficial. Application of ice to the area and compression, such as an Ace bandage, may help to minimize swelling and pain. Oral anti-inflammatories such as Motrin may also help reduce pain and inflammation.
Fire ant bites will typically develop a small blister shortly after the incident. This blister is a sterile environment and should be left alone. Blisters should not be popped. If a blister pops inadvertently, it should be treated as an open wound. This means keeping the area clean with a topical antiseptic such as betadine and applying antibiotic cream, such as Neosporin. The area of a popped blister should be covered with a Band-Aid. Diabetics and individuals with poor circulation should be particularly mindful of the signs of infection, which would most commonly be redness and swelling which is spreading outside of the area of the original blister. If these occur, make an appointment to see us as soon as possible.