A number of treatments are available for ant bites, although they can also resolve on their own without any intervention from the patient. Many people are primarily concerned with addressing the pain and itching associated with an ant bite, and fortunately most kitchens have a few things which can be applied to an ant bite. However, some people can develop allergic reactions to ant venom, in which case they will need medical treatment in a hospital.
Most ant bites are harmless, although the bite of a fire ant can be extremely painful. Ants will also bite without provocation, which can make bites difficult to avoid. Classically, a bite will turn red and swell up, and it can take several days to resolve. The biggest risk with ant bites is that they will become infected, which classically occurs when people scratch at itchy bites, causing them to ulcerate and creating an opening in the skin which can be colonized by bacteria.
Immediately after an ant bite, the bite should be washed with warm water and soap, and sterilized with a material like hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or betadine. This will reduce the risk of developing an infection as a result of the bite, and it can also flush out some of the venom, reducing the stinging and pain. Taking an antihistamine like Benadryl can radically reduce swelling and redness, and will limit itching during the healing process. Over the next few days, patients should keep the bite clean with soap and water, and apply cortisone cream as needed if the bite becomes itchy.
If ant bites are extremely painful, a paste of baking soda and water can be applied to the bite to ease skin irritation. People can also use toothpaste, aloe vera, or cortisone cream to cut down on pain and swelling. Icing ant bites is also recommended, as it will reduce the swelling and numb the area, making it feel less painful. Varying levels of success are experienced with these remedies, and people may have to engage in some trial and error to find the best treatment for them. Other substances people have been known to use on ant bites include: bleach, clay, ammonia, and lemon wedges.
If someone starts to develop signs of an allergic reaction, he or she should be immediately taken to a hospital. These symptoms include shortness of breath, pale skin, sweating, confusion, a rapid heart rate, a large skin rash around the bite, and unconsciousness. When seeking medical treatment, people should specify that the patient was bitten by an ant. Doctors like to know when the bite occurred, if possible, and sometimes it helps to have a sample of the ant in question.