Last Modified on Sep 16, 2013
Fire ant bites are misery itself! Actually, what we're talking about is a fire ant sting, because when a fire ant feels threatened it stings its "attacker" from the abdomen, just like the wasps from which they are descended. Unfortunately, fire ants often attack in numbers, and their stings can lead to infection of an open wound.
The symptoms of a fire ant bite or sting include a burning or stinging pain, whitish blisters, hives, swelling, redness, inflammation, and possibly a red circle around the bite itself. Secondary systemic symptoms such as a headache are also possible.
Natural Cures: A cold compress applied right away will reduce inflammation and pain. Aloe applied to fire ant stings can relieve the itching and pain. Both vinegar and a baking soda paste have been recommended as natural remedies to soothe the pain from fire ant bites, though in the end one of these should be a better treatment than the other. Hopefully Earth Clinic readers can discover the truth!
|Apple Cider Vinegar||6 YEAS|
Apple Cider Vinegar
[YEA] 10/02/2012: Ruth from Coral Springs, Florida: "Recently I got red ant bites. It was quite uncomfortable and the best relief was the suggsestion I got on your website to soak your feet in apple cider vinegar."Replies
[YEA] 10/21/2012: Colorado Mom from Denver, Colorado replies: "I had several red ant stings on my leg and ankle. 6 hours, cold compresses and a benedryl later I read this advice about apple cider vinegar. I jumped up, got the cider and cotton balls and dabbed. Instant relief! It did wear off but just applied again. Thank you!"
11/20/2012: Ali from Tampa, Fl replies: "Definitely helpful for time being! Thanks for the Apple Cider Vinegar idea!!"
[YEA] 09/18/2009: Laura from Denton, Tx: "I'm allergic to fire ant bites, and my foot was swollen and sore for 3 days. I tried everything. I remembered that apple cider vinegar works wonders for a million other things, so I tried it on a lark. Instantly, my foot felt better and the swelling went down within minutes. Apple cider vinegar works is a miracle home remedy for treating fire ant bites!!!"Replies
[YEA] 02/29/2012: Stephanie B. from Fort Worth, Texas replies: "Thank you! 3am and I wake up because of a stupid fire ant bite AGAIN on the second toe on my left foot. I think the ants put a GPS locater on me, always the same spot, but this they were fancy and bit between the toes. Read these posts, ran to the kitchen and all I could find was seasoned spice vinegar. I smell like Asian food but relief was immediate! Thank you!!"
[YEA] 05/26/2012: Sara from Carthage, Tx replies: "TY TY TY for the info on ACV for fire ant bites. I just bought some _____ Org ACV and will use it on my multiple FA bites that I got today."
[YEA] 07/23/2012: Jennifer from Manchester, Tn replies: "I was bitten by fire ants on my feet and ankles and several yellow jacket stings all in one afternoon out on the farm. I treated immediately with cortisone cream and benedryl but relief was temporary at best. Itching and pistules with an area of redness and swelling extending several inches from the bites. Read your response on using cider vinegar. Dabbed that on and got immediate relief. Thank you for your advice."
08/08/2012: Miah from Durham, Nc replies: "It worked awesomely for my fire ant sting! Soaked my foot in apple cider vinegar 2 days post sting. The burning and swelling were intense prior to soaking. Afterwards I could walk without limping! Even went for my usual run! The vinegar drew it all out of my tissues and now I just have a huge blister. Not painful anymore at all. A little itchy but that's it. The blister is too big to pop so it's not red or painful and just clear. I'm leaving it alone..."
08/14/2012: Bev from Temecula, Ca replies: "I tried the hot water treatment. Sitting here reading your site because I was too itchy to drive to the store for benedryl, I remembered that using hot water on poison oak worked so I tried it again and .... it WORKED. Thank you for the reminder. The itching and pain are gone, the swelling in my feet and ankles is still there but now I'm going to try the vinegar bath. Thanks again!"
[YEA] 07/29/2008: Julie from Las Vegas, Nevada: "Another thing that can work really fast for ant bites is benzoyl peroxide (Clearasil or similar products). Just dab on, and repeat later-usually works within a day or two; will take the itching away fast. Also works for spider bites, and other types of skin bumps."
Campfire Ashes or Strong Soap
[YEA] 12/14/2008: Donna from Port Huron, MI: "We go backpacking in remote areas where we are far from medical help and must deal with problems immediately. One night I woke up to find half my face red and swollen from red ant bites. Ants inject formic acid which causes the pain in nerve endings. If the formic acid is neutralized immediately, the pain is much less. First I applied a baking soda paste from my first aid kit but without much relief. Then I used ashes from the campfire. The relief was rapid and I didn't feel any more pain. We were in Hawaii in Dec where I was bitten by about 50 fire ants...much more painful than any other insect bite I have ever had. We didn't have any baking soda or ashes and I wanted to treat it immediately. In a hotel room, there are few options, but I found the strongest soap that I could and lathered myself for about 20 minutes in the shower. The soap neutralized the acid and the water from the shower diluted the acid. The pain left almost instantly. I attribute the success of this to being treated in less than 2 minutes. Three places that I missed had swellings about 2 1/2" across. I would not have wanted to have 50 welts like that on my body."Replies
[YEA] 05/11/2009: Nsmith from Douglasville, Ga replies: "SOAP, ANY BAR OF SOAP, This is a remedy my greatgrand mother used on us for generations. Take a bar of soap barely wet the tip of it. Massage rub it in circles into the insect bites until the soap starts drying up or feels like a sticky film. That part is very important to do, 5 mins instant relief. Very soothing and no itching."
[YEA] 01/31/2011: Hannah from Tyler, Tx replies: "My son (who was not even two at the time) stood in a fire ant pile. I could not even count how many stings he had. I didn't know what to do!! Without thinking I started rubbing campfire ashes all over his legs. He stopped crying and didn't act like they hurt so bad the rest of the trip. sorry for my bad spelling! thank you! No one believed me that it helped him!
09/07/2011: Tina Sumner from Washougal, Wa replies: "that is so tru this works sooo well I did this with my youngest as well it was a miracle worker"
[YEA] 04/08/2012: Aeiver from New Braunfels, Tx/usa: "I learned this remedy from a lady from Panama. She advised me to rub a fresh lemon slice on fire ant bites. For me the relief is instantaneous. Also, a pustule does not form. A co-worker came to work complaining of fire ant bites she had gotten several hours earlier that were still burning. There was no lemon available, so she rubbed her bites with some orange slices. She reported the bites felt better immediately. I am guessing that lime would be equally effective."
[YEA] 06/23/2013: Peggy from Chelsea, Al: "Emu oil is AMAZING for fire ants bites!! Make sure it's natural and pure."
[YEA] 09/23/2012: Miyo from Hilo, Hawaii: "little fire ants are invading the islands. I thank the person who suggested hot water--yes it works immediately and relief lasts 4-5 hours. I also found that your hair dryer does the same thing (tested it several times). At the first bite, grab your dryer right away and the heat seems to disperse the histamine that causes the pain and itch. It has to be hot enough without scalding."
[YEA] 06/11/2013: Katrinika from Raleigh, NC: "Went foraging, hoping to find some wild stinging nettle, and while being ever so careful of some vigorously healthy poison ivy, I was looking closer at a pointed, jagged-edged leaf (not nettles after all) when I realized my feet were burning. Fire ants! Before I could brush them all away I had numerous stings to my feet and ankles. They hurt a lot!
I hurried for home but almost immediately stumbled into some clay quick sand in a run off area that sucked my sandals off - we just had a LOT of rain - and realized as I hurried on that it had felt soothing to the bites. So I went back and stood in the mud for a moment or two. I didn't want to waste time getting back home to treat before too much damage was done, but I do think the clay bought me some time or even was a beneficial first line of treatment!
At home twenty minutes later, I did a hasty google and ran into the debate about acid vs. Alkaline treatment. So I quickly doused my feet and ankles in white vinegar (at ten times the price I figured I save my raw organic ACV for spot treating later), dumped that out and then doused in household cleaning ammonia. Then I threw together an Epsom salts soak with the cold water on hand outside, figuring that even if it did nothing about the stings it would calm me down.
I shortly realized that the only sting that was hurting was one that was too high up my leg for the Epsom salts to reach (I may have missed it with the vinegar and ammonia, too, and the higher bite wouldn't have made it into the mud, for sure). I changed that leg to a different, higher bucket.
After about half an hour, with a headache trying to sneak in (fire ants?), I rubbed on some witch hazel/mint mouthwash/EOs mixture that helped last year with chigger bites (thank you, Earth Clinic people) and decided to try to nap and decide what other steps I'd have to take from there.
Well, I must have done something right because two hours later all I see where I know ants stung is little dark sting spots. No blister, redness, burning, etc. It itches a little but the chigger mixture takes care of that.
I had been anticipating having to hunt up more remedies... Things like plantain, etc. , to deal with the aftermath. I'll know better tomorrow, but at the moment it looks like there is no aftermath! In the past, without immediate treatment, those stings have resulted in terrible misery and open, running sores that went on for weeks.
Thank You, God... Your natural pharmacy rules!"Replies
06/12/2013: Katrinika from Raleigh, Nc replies: "I wrote too soon! As the day progressed, my feet swelled and some itching began. I soaked in Epsom salts again before bed and used the chigger mixture and comfrey salve. During the night I had to use my chigger mixture to quell itching and this morning I have little blisters. Not waiting for them to fester, but lancing them and rubbing on raw ACV with much relief. Will post to see how long it takes to recover completely. (Sorry for posting too soon... lesson learned! )."
06/23/2009: Cheryl from Houston, TX: "Several years ago I was smarmed by fire ants on my right ankle. I received multiple bites all in the same area. The bites pustuled as I wasn't able to treat it immediately. Even though this happened 5 years ago I still experience daily itching on that area. I still feel like there is something in there. The itching can be pretty intense and the skin on my ankle looks leathery and dark. Does anyone have any remedy for this? I've tried many things but haven't found the answer yet. Thanks for your help!"Replies
06/24/2009: Tavora from Brooklyn, NY replies: "About 8 years ago, while camping, I was bitten by fire ants on both my ankles and feet. I empathize w/ u because I can remember the pain and irritation! Even still after all these years. I don't think I had been swarmed but did manage to get rid of the itch and heal the skin with aloe vera gel (from the leaf). When the pustules dried up - I just rubbed the area w/ basic A&D ointment. But since your issue seems to be somewhat dormant, try eating more raw garlic. It's one of nature's "cure-all"...or try Oil of Oregano. Just rub into the area. It can penetrate the dermis and relieve pain and itching quickly."
07/01/2009: Cheryl from Houston, TX replies: "Thanks to Tavora for the remedy for my dormant fire ant bite area. I orderd the oil of oregano and am so excited to try it. I have been using several other oils that I have on hand that I purchased due to reading things here on EC. They help somewhat but it always comes back. I will start the garlic today and the oil of oregano when I receive it. I'll post my results!"
11/29/2009: Alias from Dallas, Tx replies: "Vinegar already mentioned is fairly good, but I find bleach works even better."
[YEA] 07/01/2009: Deirdre from Atlanta, Georgia: "On the subject of fire ant bite remedies, a few weeks ago I was in the garden weeding and pulled out an enormous weed and with it, hundreds of fire ants. They bit me all over my hand and wrist in less than an instant. I went in and tried rubbing soap on the bites after reading the few cures we have for fire ant bites on Earth Clinic, but it didn't work. After that I decided to try tiger balm, my favorite remedy for mosquito bite itch. 10 minutes after applying the balm, the bites stopped stinging. I forgot all about them and a few hours later when I checked my hand, there were no signs whatsoever that I had ever been bitten!"Replies
[BETTER BUT NOT CURED] 12/09/2011: Michael from Fort Pierce, Florida, Usa replies: "I was bitten in eleven places on the top of my foot and ankle. It is now some 10 days to two weeks later and 2 days ago I still had pustules and the itching began to increase. Sites I looked at said they should go away in 72 hours. I had no other allergic reactions. I used a sterilized pin to lance the pustules. I put on antibiotic ointments, sprayed it with Bactine, soaked my feet with bath salts. Nothing worked. I had thought about Tiger Balm, but thought it was somehow counterintuitive, you know, it has menthol & gives off heat. I never gave vinegar of either kind a thought. Today, frustrated with the lack of any healing response, I googled the issue and when I saw the one about Tiger Balm, something clicked. So I put some on. It worked almost immediately to relieve the burning and itching. The swelling has gone down too. The red spots haven't gone away yet, but there's hope. I may use Apple Cider Vinegar tomorrow in conjunction (intermittently) with Tiger Balm. At least it reduced the symptoms."
[YEA] 08/19/2008: Aileen from Victoria, Texas: "I agree with Ann, white vinegar for ant bites works wonderfully. I am allergic to ant bites too and also mosquito bites and everytime I get bit I apply white vinegar or apple cider vinegar immediately. I can feel the relief right away. I have used shaving cream, calamine lotion and hidrocortisone but the vinegar seems to neutralize the venom right away and the itching and swelling is gone faster."
[YEA] 12/12/2007: CORA from CONROE, TX: "WHITE VINEGAR FOR ANT BITES. I AM ALLERGIC TO ANT BITES AND SWELL ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. I PUT WHITE VINEGAR ON THEM AND IT TAKES THE SWELLING AND ITCHING RIGHT OUT."Replies
[YEA] 11/15/2010: Greg from Fort Worth, Texas replies: "Oil of Oregano!!! I discovered this amazing essential oil about a year ago and I'm constantly amazed at the ailments it cures! I got about 10 fire ant bites a few years ago and they lingered with white centers for about 2 weeks, then took another month to heal, leaving a small scar. I got 7 bites 3 days ago out on a job. I came home 3 hours later and put oil of oregano on them. The itching disappeared immediately. The bites turned white in the center by the next day, but I kept applying the oil morning and night. By evening of day 3, white centers were gone! I'm anticipating total healing within days, not weeks! Maybe even less or no scar! There's many other uses for this natural antibiotic also!"
09/28/2012: Apollo from West Palm Beach, Florida replies: "Papaya placed on the fire ant bite takes the sting and itching away and if done within minutes of getting bit, the bite will not blister. You can buy a papaya fruit and cut it into cubes and freeze it. This way it is always on hand to put on a bite."
09/16/2013: Beth from Florida replies: "I live in Florida where there are many red ants.
Through trial and error I have found the best advice I have been given is to use Desenex Spray. It takes the sting right out. You may need to spray more than once especially after first stung. Unfortunately it can itch for weeks after so keep the spray handy."