Ant Bites – Symptoms, Treatment, Pictures


All of us know the fact that ants are social creatures that are present in all the four corners of the world, with a few exceptions of some remote islands and the continent of Antarctica. Ants and bees are considered as relatives and their scavenging and predatory activities are considered to be important for the well being of the environment

However, it is also true that ants can be damaging for the crops, that they intrude on human space and that they can cause ant bites. Ants bite as a way of self preservation and for attacking. No wonder, the name ‘Ant’ has its origins in the German language meaning ‘the biter’. The seriousness of the ant bites on humans varies as per the different species. There are few types of ants that can even sting. There are many symptoms of an ant bite including itching, pain, swelling and even death, depending on the species of ant that has cause the ant bite.

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Almost all of us have experienced an ant bite at some point in our lives. Most individuals who get bitten by ants have usually been found to be accidentally standing over an unnoticed ant mound, or sitting near an ant nest without being aware that they are intruding on the activities of the ants. Ants are really tiny and hence most individuals are generally unaware of the fact that ants are moving about their shoes, pants and legs, until the first ant bite occurs.

It is important for all individuals to know about the different ways to effectively and promptly treat an ant bite so as to prevent medical complications.

Symptoms of an ant bite

  • Ants are generally considered as a nuisance by humans. But it is also true that they can cause ant bites, which can result in serious consequences on occasions. Most cases of ant bites results in minor pain and discomfort in the victims, while the ant bites from a few species can lead to dangerous symptoms.
  • An ant bite can often lead to the injection or spraying of certain chemicals like formic acid on the victim. This can result in the development of signs such as swelling, pain, inflammation and itching.
  • Individuals who are allergic to ant bites can experience severe symptoms which can often result in death. Some of the symptoms elicited as an allergic reaction to ant bites include rapid heartbeat, vomiting, breathing problems or breathlessness, confusion, dizziness, nausea, difficulties in speaking and increased inflammation or swelling.
  • As stated above, there are a few types of ants which can cause ant bites that result in intense pain. The ant bites of these species may not be life threatening in all cases, but can result in death in a few instances
    • The bullet ants present in South and Central America can cause ant stings which can lead to extreme pain. Their bites are however not fatal for healthy humans.
    • Fire ants are considered as one of the most deadly species of ants. Their ant bites can result in a variety of serious symptoms. The fire ants are aggressive and posses venom sacs that contain piperidine alkaloids. When this poison is injected into the human body via a fire ant bite, then it can result in symptoms like pain, swelling and extreme itchiness. Individuals who are allergic to fire ant bites can even die when bitten by them.
    • The jack jumper ant of Australia that is often referred to as jumper ant, hopper ant, or jumping jack can cause stings which can prove fatal. However, an antivenin has been developed for the treatment of such ant bites

Ant Bites Treatment

  • Most of the cases of ant bites do not require any treatment as they resolve on their own. However, ant bites that result in severe allergic reactions such as breathing difficulties, wheezing, etc., require immediate visit to the emergency room of a hospital, else it can result in death of the victim.

The normal cases of ant bites may be treated at home in the following ways:

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  • After getting rid of the ants from the body, wash the affected area with water and soap. It may be noted that a few types of ant poison are not water soluble. Hence, one may need to wipe the site of the ant bites with alcohol after washing and drying the affected area.
  • Once the site is completely dry apply a thick paste of water and baking soda on it. Then cover it with a thin gauze strip. It may sometimes take a few weeks for the ant bite to heal completely. Hence, application of the paste on an everyday basis may be necessary. One may also substitute baking soda with meat tenderizer or crushed aspirin, in case baking soda is not readily available.
  • The swelling may be reduced by application of ice packs on the site of the ant bites.
  • Pain killer medications may help to alleviate the pain
  • Avoid scratching the affected site even if it itches, because scratching it will break up the skin and increase the risk to secondary infection by bacteria and other microbes.

Ant Bites Pictures

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