What To Do When An Ant Bites You?

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Ants have an itchy and painful sting, which they use as a defensive mechanism. What to do when an ant bites you? When an ant bites you, it uses its mandibles to puncture your skin. The bite can cause swelling around the area.

There are two types of ants that people need to be aware of when it comes to their biting and stinging habits: the ones that bite and the ones that sting. Ant bites differ from stings in terms of the reaction they cause. We shall discuss the symptoms and the reactions of ant bites and get a clear idea of how to react to a bite.

Why Do Ants Bite?

Ants bite humans as a defensive measure to protect their colony and capture prey. They are attracted to movement, so they will likely not bother you if you are still. However, if you disturb their nest or try to move them, they will sting and bite in defense.

Ant binting human for self defence

The venom injected by the ant’s stinger is painful and overshadows the bite. The venom is a clear liquid that is injected into the skin upon contact with the stinger. When bitten, you may feel a burning sensation as well as itching and swelling.

How to Identify the Bite

A red ant bite causes a burning or stinging sensation. Stings appear as red welts at first. Ant bites are distinguished by the appearance of the bump and the ant’s aggressive efforts to sting in large numbers from their above-ground nest.

What to Do When an Ant Bites You?

If not prevented, each ant bites and then stings repeatedly. If the ant bites frequently enough, multiple bites in a small, semi-circular pattern may appear. Fire ant sting appears as a reddish lump on the skin that develops into a small blister over time.

The symptoms of ant bites can vary depending on the individual’s sensitivity and the number of times they have been stung.

What are the symptoms of ant bites?

When an ant bites you, it causes immediate pain and a red spot. The spot may turn into a blister, and the area around the bite may swell. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, and chest pain in severe cases.

Usually, an ant bite or sting symptoms will last for a few days to weeks. The most common symptoms are localized pain, redness, swelling, and itchiness.

When bitten, people often experience clusters of red bumps on their skin. The bites are often found around areas where clothing constricts the body, such as the waistband, socks, or shoes.

Local reaction

Local reaction is a common indicator following an ant bite. Symptoms include swelling, itching, pain, and redness at the bite site. 

When bitten by an ant, the best thing is to remain calm. The bite will cause localized pain, itch, redness, swelling, and induration. Swelling is usually less than 4 cm in diameter and can sometimes be urticarial. A local reaction prevails for less than 24 hours.

Large local reaction

When an ant bites you, it can cause a large local reaction. This is defined as a reaction that involves a large area of skin greater than 10 cm around the bite or sting site and persists for at least 24 hours.

Hand allergic swelling blister Hand skin allergic swelling blister after ant bite

The severity of the reaction peaks after 1 to 2 days and takes 7 to 10 days to resolve.

Mild systemic reaction

When someone is bitten or stung by an ant, there is a very small chance that they will experience a mild systemic reaction. This reaction occurs in less than 1% of bites and sting cases.

The symptoms can include flushing, itchiness, swelling around the bite/sting site, hives (urticaria), redness in areas distant from the bite/sting, and a generalized distribution.

Gastrointestinal system symptoms may also consist of mild nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.

Severe systemic reactions

When an ant bites an individual, a severe systemic reaction can occur. This reaction can be due to 2 different organ systems- the respiratory and circulatory systems.

Some common symptoms of a severe systemic reaction include angioedema (swelling of the face), flushing, wheezing, chest pain, hypotension, dizziness, severe abdominal pain, and profuse vomiting or uterine cramping.

Allergic reactions to fire ant stings

When an ant bites you, it injects venom into your skin. This venom can cause various allergic reactions, the most common of which is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

Red weaver ants teamwork on leaf

If you are stung by an ant and experience any of the following symptoms, you may be having an allergic reaction: swelling, burning, and itching.

If these symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention right away. More severe reactions can lead to trouble breathing, loss of consciousness, and even shock.

How are ant bites treated, and how can they be prevented?

Ant bites are treated with a variety of topical and oral medications. If the patient experiences a severe reaction, they will need to be taken to the emergency room for treatment.

When red ants bite people, they usually have an allergic reaction. If someone experiences a severe reaction, they might need to use epinephrine.

What to Do When an Ant Bites You?

Ant bites and stings can vary in reaction depending on the person. Some people may only have a minor reaction, while others may have a more severe reaction. The treatment for ant bites/stings will also vary depending on the reaction.

Most treatments involve using over-the-counter medication or home remedies to help reduce swelling and pain.

If you are stung by ants, the most common treatment is to remove the ants from the skin and then wash the affected area with soap and water.

How to Avoid Getting Ant Bites

Ants are attracted to sunny, open areas where they can find food. This means that you are more likely to encounter them in parks, near picnic areas, or your garden.

If you are going to be spending time in an area where there are ants, take the necessary precautions to avoid getting bitten or stung.

Though ants are beneficial to the environment, some types can be harmful. Carpenter ants are found in wooden structures and sometimes bite humans if they feel threatened.

Different ants have different biting behaviors, so it’s important to know how to treat an ant bite before it becomes infected.

Risks Associated With Infections

When an ant bites you, it can release a venom that may cause an infection. Infections from fire ant stings are common and can often lead to pus ulcers.

These bumps can become infected and may leave scars. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms after being bitten by an ant.

When an ant bites you, it’s important to clean the sting sites carefully. This will help to avoid secondary infections. 

What are some DIY ant bite treatments?

The following are a few precautions to take when attempting to treat ant bites with only household items. Remember to use them to the best of your ability, but don’t hesitate to consult a doctor if none of the following measures work even after continuous use.


Ant bites are accompanied by redness and swelling, and the best way to treat swelling and redness is to apply an ice pack to the affected area.

Ice provides a cooling sensation to your skin, causing it to lose all swelling and inflammation and revert to its original texture in no time. It is also beneficial for treating blisters.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice works wonders in reducing the irritation and swelling caused by an ant bite. Simply squeeze half a lemon and collect the juice on a spoon.

Combine this juice with water and apply it to the affected area, leaving it on for a few minutes. Itching, redness, swelling, and inflammation will all go away in no time.


Apply a drop of honey to the entire area of skin affected by the sting and leave it for a few minutes or an hour. Honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

These properties are extremely helpful in addressing infections or allergic reactions caused by ant bites before they begin to show their effects.


In many ways, vinegar is similar to honey. It is anti-microbial and anti-bacterial in nature. Applying vinegar to the site of the burn immediately after an ant bite is a good idea, but make sure you mix it well with water first in a 1:1 ratio.

In the absence of honey, vinegar and water will suffice and produce the same results.

Final Thoughts

An ant bite releases a pheromone that attracts other ants to the area. This is why you often see more ants after you have been stung by one.

Pets and children are more at risk from fire ant stings because they are unaware of the dangers. Owners should talk to children about the dangers of fire ants and show them what fire ant mounds look like.

In conclusion, ants should be removed by hand if possible or sprayed with water if necessary. If the ant bite becomes infected, see a doctor immediately.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.