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Ant Bites

Posted by Shelly
Shelly Nalbone is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has worked with children fo
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on Monday, April 23 2012 in Staying Healthy

This is the time of year that children play outside and can come in contact with different insects. Fire ants are common in this area. Fire ants are small, reddish-brown ants, & they are aggressive. They are sensitive to vibration and movement, and will sting when the object they're on moves (for example, a child running through the gras with bare feet who knocks into an ant mound). Fire ants are so named because their venom induces a painful, fiery sensation. When disturbed, fire ants are very aggressive. Because of the ant's aggressive nature, an attack usually results in several stings. The ant injects a venom when it stings that causes the release of histamine, a chemical in our bodies that can produce pain, itching, swelling and redness of the skin. Within seconds, a small red welt appears. Which enlarges rapidly, depending on the amount of venom that was injected. This reaction persists for up to an hour, and than a small blister containing clear fluid appears. Over the next half day or so, the fluid in the blister turns cloudy, and the area begins to itch. If the child scratches too vigorously, the skin can be secondarily infected.

Treatment for Fire Ant Bites

1. Remove all ants from the child's body to prevent further stinging

2. If a child is stung, apply ice to the bite site for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Elevate the extremity where the child was bit.

4. Clean and clip the child's fingernails to prevent any secondary infection that can result from scratching the bite.

5. Check our website for the correct dose of an oral antihistamine (Benadryl) to reduce itching and inflammation

6. A small percentage of children stung -- probably less than 0 .5 percent -- experience a severe reaction. These occur within minutes of a sting and vary in severity. A child who is stung and within minutes begins to experience hives, weakness, dizziness, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath or confusion should be taken immediately to the nearest emergency room.

7. Watch the area for signs of infection over the next couple of days.

8. Reaction to fire ant stings is similar to reaction to the stings of bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets. The overwhelming majority of fire ant stings are medically uncomplicated and are more of a nuisance than a serious problem.

When it comes to fire ants, the best treatment is avoidance. To help children avoid fire ants, parents should regularly check their yards and their children's play areas for the presence of the ants and their mounds. Then they should either eliminate the ants or make sure children avoid them.

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Shelly Nalbone is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has worked with children for more than 17yrs. She graduated from Houston Baptist University in 1993 with her Bachelors Degree in Nursing and completed her Masters Degree at Texas Woman's University in 1999. Shelly completed a Post Masters Fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. She has spoken nationally on pediatric and adolescent health care topics and was a contributing author for a pediatric nursing textbook. Shelly is Associate Clinical Faculty for The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and LoneStar College Nursing programs. She lives in the Champions area with her husband and 2 children.