Fire ant first aid

It is important to know what to do if you or someone you know is stung.

An encounter with fire ants can be painful and potentially life-threatening, so it is important to know what to do if you find yourself, your family or your pets in this situation.

Human first aid

Most people do not need medical treatment for fire ant stings.

If breathing is normal and the sting victim does not have a history of insect allergies, the following home treatments can be effective:

  • Apply a cold compress to relieve the swelling and pain.
  • Gently wash the affected area with soap and water.
  • Take an antihistamine to manage minor, localised reactions and itching.
Fire ant sting pustules, 48 hours

It is important to keep the blister intact.

There is a risk of secondary infection if the blisters or pustules break.

Severe reactions

A severe reaction may occur if a sting victim has a history of allergic reactions to insects or experiences the following symptoms:

  • rapid onset of flushing
  • general hives
  • swelling of the face, eyes or throat
  • chest pains
  • nausea
  • severe sweating
  • breathing difficulties
  • faintness.

If you observe any symptoms of a severe reaction in someone who has been stung by fire ants seek urgent medical advice

Animal first aid

Dog wearing boots to protect against fire ants

If your animal or pet has been stung, it is important to:

  • Quickly move them away from the ants or the nest.
  • Remove any fire ants from their skin or fur to ensure there are no further stings.
  • Giving your pet a cool bath after being stung can provide some relief.

Wear a pair of gloves to protect yourself and brush the ants off the animal’s skin or fur. You can use a brush or comb or pick the ants off individually. Do not try to hose them off as this can make the ants more aggressive.

Seek further advice from your vet if the animal is in pain or is showing signs of an allergic reaction. This can be drooling or vomiting, lethargy and trouble breathing. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening, but it can also be treated quickly.

Fortunately, in most cases, pets recover well from fire ant stings.

Call your vet immediately if your pet seems to be having an allergic reaction to the fire ant stings.