Naturally Bubbly

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Ant Bites Hurt – How to Stop the Pain?

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Ant Bites Again!

Ant Bites HurtIt’s 2014 and ants are still biting me.  My most recent run in with these vicious creatures was in the Caribbean.  As I hung my laundry up to dry on a clothesline a tiny little ant silently climbed up on me and bit me.  I’m guessing that this is what happened since I didn’t feel the bite. After I noticed a little bump, like a pimple, I ignored it since it didn’t seem so bad.

But true to an ant bite, the bump just kept getting worse and worse day after day, more painful and more painful. 
After days of pain and swelling where hot showers and aloe were not helping I searched the internet for advice. (I should have read this post actually to find out aloe would not help!) found out that heat directed right at the bite might kill the pain.  Someone advised using a hair dryer.  I didn’t have one so I heated up a wet washcloth in the microwave and used it as hot as possible on the bite area.  Finally relief!

I had discovered previously that hot water would help, but now I realize that it has to be really hot, as hot as one can stand without burning the skin, to help.  I endured another week of the bite spreading, and then weeping for days requiring me to wear band aids.  3 weeks later I can say the bite is healed.

Every summer I manage to get bitten by ants while working in the garden. At least I think its ants. I’m praying it’s not spiders. I never see the critters attacking me, it’s later when the bites swell up, turn red, and start to hurt that I notice them. Usually they are on my skin under my clothing. I guess ants like privacy when they bite. Ant bites hurt, I always forget, so how to stop the pain?

Here is my situation–last week I noticed a series of bites on my back and around the side of my upper body. All around the borders of where my jog bra lays on me.  At first I was certain I had contracted a flesh-eating bacteria, but then I remembered ant bites I have received in years past. Always in a cluster and always bumpy, itchy, red, swollen and painful to the touch. Just having cloth touching the area is very painful.

I looked up what to do about ant bites and found that my natural instincts were sound. When I first discovered the bites I showered and scrubbed the areas well with soap and water. Then I scrubbed the areas with baking soda and rinsed off. That instinct was correct except for one thing:  Baking soda it turns out is a great way to stop swelling of bites, but only if you make a compress with it and tape on some gauze to keep it in place for a while. I didn’t do that and I paid the price, two weeks of pain.

Would Aloe Help?

Then, I thought, I need Aloe Vera, the wonderful panacea of all skin conditions, burns, bites, and more! Well, since I had ditched my Aloe Vera plant when I moved (it was just soooooo big) I didn’t have any fresh aloe on hand. And I also had thrown out my tube of aloe gel because it was past its expiry date.

But I had some green clay powder, another incredibly healing substance for many skin problems and bruises. I applied a paste of clay for the rest of the night and the next day. Seemed like it was helping. But the bites happened on Wednesday, and it was now Friday and the pain worsening although the bites were not swollen or blistery.

Ant Bites Hurt

Friday night I went on an emergency run to Whole Foods for a fresh Aloe Vera leaf. It seemed like some aloe gel would be really soothing. I decided to buy another Aloe Vera plant instead. Came home, and cut off an aloe spear. There was no yellow liquid for some reason. That is the most healing part of the aloe plant. Hmmmm. Nonetheless I applied the fresh aloe gel to the bites and boy did it sting. Maybe that was a good, healing sting, but it didn’t help the pain.

Pain Cure Hot Water Bath

Guess what did help the pain though? A hot/warm bath was wonderful. No pain the entire time I was in there. Too bad I can’t live my life out of the warm bath . . . I am now on my way to the drugstore for some good old calamine lotion. And maybe an oral antihistamine as well.

I didn’t get the calamine lotion but instead two different itch relief products. One has Diphenhydramine hydrochloride and Zinc acetate, and the other has Pramoxine and Zinc acetate. I did the antihistamine lotion first and it helped a little. Later I’ll try the Praxomine solution.

The websites I visited to find out about ant bites said it takes a week for ant bites to heal, so I am half way there.


The ant bites stayed painful and itchy for 2 full weeks. I used antihistamine lotion every three hours for a week straight. Unfortunately I didn’t use it right away but waited for almost a week. I would say that my biggest problem was that I didn’t start the antihistamines right away. Wjhat may be natural antihistamine?

Anytime my clothing rubbed or moved across the ant bitten area (about 2 inch square) it aggravated the pain. Warm baths didn’t really help anymore.

Finally after I reached two weeks, I thought why not just put some regular moisturizing lotion on the area, maybe it will sooth it. It did soothe very well. I put the antihistamine lotion away. It’s been 2.5 weeks and I can say it’s just about gone but scars will remain. The bites are still red with little black dots inside. Wicked ants!

These ant bites have been the worse insect bites I have every received, and that includes having camped in the tropics for weeks at a time, and being stung by a wasp a few years ago. My advice is watch out when you move through the garden in late summer, as it seems that ants are crawling on every leaf and stem. Preventing ant bites and all insect bites is really my best advice!

  • Tiffany

    I could not find a date on here so I do not know how old this is. (Maybe its because I’m on my iPhone) Anyway, are you sure they were ant bites and not chiggers?

    • Julia Houriet

      I’m not positive, but I dont’ think we have chiggers up here in urban New England. Do we?

  • Brabantia

    I’m currently going through the same ordeal, for the second year (again in June, so not “late summer”). On my leg and … the inside of my lip… imagine the appealing look of a blown up sack dangling on your jaw. But the swelling is different from last year, it’s definitely less severe (I hope it’ll result in a less long healing process… fingers crossed)
    Coincidently I’ve been drinking a lot of homemade elderflower cordial the last couple of weeks and found out it’s supposed to be a natural anti-hystamine so eventhough those bites still suck, you might want to give it a try. Drinking the cordial surely isn’t difficult ;-) There’s many recipes online and it’s a straightforward business to make it.

    • naturallybubbly

      sorry to hear it hope you feel better soon. I’m on high alert for anything crawling on me while gardening. Thanks for the advice about the elderberry cordial.

  • pmpope

    Fire ants! wow! These little critters can certainly bring the pain. I went to Blackhawk hardware (Charlotte) & talked to Wade. He is a database of ‘getting rid of garden pests’. My ant bites are still causing me pain so I am seriously considering this elderberry cordial. :) If you can’t beat ‘em; drown the little bugger’s in an Elderberry Cordial! Cheers!

    • naturallybubbly

      thanks for your comment pmpope. Hope you are feeling better today, unless you are now suffering from a hangover! Take care.

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