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Fire Ant Stings


Topic Overview

Fire ants are wingless insects that belong to the same family of insects as bees and wasps. Fire ants are found in the southeastern and south central United States, especially along the Gulf Coast. They tend to attack and sting in great numbers.

A fire ant attaches itself to a person by biting with its jaws, then pivoting its head and stinging from its abdomen in a circular pattern at multiple sites. Symptoms of a fire ant sting may include:

  • A painful raised bump that becomes a pus-filled blister in 6 to 24 hours and lasts for up to 10 days.
  • Skin at the bite site that dies and leaves a scar or bump.
  • A severe life-threatening allergic reaction.
  • A toxic reaction when there have been 20 or more stings.
  • Redness and swelling extending beyond the sting site.
  • Serum sickness, a rare reaction to stings. Flu-like symptoms and hives begin 7 to 14 days after an insect sting.

Home treatment can help relieve pain and prevent infection.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last RevisedOctober 15, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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