Ant bites can cause localized swelling, redness and even an allergic reaction in rare occasions. Young children should be instructed to avoid any ant piles and clean any bites right away to prevent infection. Monitor for any signs of an allergic reaction such as itchiness, hives, difficulty breathing and stomach cramps since these require immediate medical care.
Cleansing ant bites
Cleanse ant bites right away using water and warm soap. Apply a solution of 1-part hydrogen peroxide and 1-part water to the site.
Allow the wound to dry and dress with an antibiotic treatment. Cleanse the site daily until it recuperates to prevent infection particularly if the child scratches the area. In case the site becomes infected, perform the cleaning process again and apply a prescription-strength antibiotic cream.
Provide the child with an over-the-counter oral antihistamine to lessen the itchiness and swelling, but carefully follow the instructions on the packaging. Take note that these medications can make the child sleepy or perk them up.
Apply calamine lotion or an anti-itch cream on the area of the ant bites but avoid using creams that contain antihistamines to prevent overdose. Clean and trim the nails of the child and cover the site with clothing to prevent scratching.
Dealing with the pain and swelling
The child should be provided with ibuprofen to lessen the swelling and pain or place an ice pack covered with a cloth or towel.
Most young children resist the latter option though. It is recommended to read a book, allow to watch a favorite movie or sing songs while applying the ice pack as a distraction.
Do not provide ibuprofen to children below 8 months old without consulting the doctor and do not provide one if the child is taking other drugs, unless instructed by the doctor.
When to consult a doctor
Ant bites characteristically recuperate in a few days, but a doctor should be consulted right away if it becomes infected or remains swollen and reddened for a long time.
Ant bites generally leave behind small-sized, red marks but fire ants can leave a bite that is ½ inch in diameter with cloudy fluid. In case the bite appears different, such as a purplish or irregularly-shaped blister with a reddened border, a doctor must be seen especially if there is significant pain. This might be a spider bite instead of an ant bite.