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Fire Ant Bites

From the Colorado Dermatology Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Daily Do of Dermatology - Title

Colorado Springs Dermatologist Dr. Reagan Anderson

Video Transcript:

So here’s another daily tip from your friendly local dermatologist.

All right, fire ant bites, they are nasty little buggers, and if you’ve ever been bitten by one, they hurt! So rule number one is get them off your body. All right? I remember as a kid I was in Florida, I got them all up and down me, and I ran into my grandfather’s pool to get them off me. The only problem was I couldn’t swim, but that’s a minor detail. So rule number one is get them off your body.

Then what I recommend is cleaning the area with soap and water, or gentle cleanser and water, rinsing off thoroughly, and patting dry. Take an oral antihistamine. Preferably a non-sedating one if you’re gonna be awake for the rest of the day, like a Claritin or an Allegra or Zyrtec. And then you can do cold compresses. So what you do for cold compress is you get a bag of peas [frozen] and you, you know, wrap a towel around it, or a bag of ice, and you wrap a towel around it, and you put it on the area for five minutes an hour, while you’re awake that day. Please don’t put the ice directly on the skin or the peas directly on the skin, because you could get a frostbite from it, and we don’t want that. We just want it to cool down the area so that the body’s immune system doesn’t create as much havoc and so that you’re not as miserable later.

Now you can always put a little topical steroid on the area as well. Hydrocortisone, you can get over-the-counter, or you can get aloe vera extract and put that right on top of it as well. So if you get the ants off you, then you clean the area, then you do the cold compresses for five minutes an hour while you’re awake for the first day, take an oral antihistamine like the Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec, and maybe put a little topical anti-inflammatory like the hydrocortisone or aloe vera, chances are you’re not going to be too miserable.

Now some people have a really severe reaction to insect bites, and particularly the venom of fire ant bites. If you start feeling weird, or your throat maybe it’s even closing off, or it’s just not easy to breathe, or your tongue starts swelling, or you feel weird from head to toe instead of just in the area that was bitten, then you need to either call 9-1-1 and get the ambulance to your house depending on the severity of the symptoms you’re having, or have someone drive you to the ER immediately. If you start feeling weird, more than just the area that was bitten, you got to be seen immediately. 

Because Dermatologists treat more than just skin cancer!

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