Health Encyclopedia > Health Topics

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, it stings from its belly 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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised July 8, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

USNWR 2013-2014Magnet Hospital RecognitionConsumer Choice2014 Best DoctorsJoint Commission Report

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.