The red ants have taken over gardens and lawns all over the Southern United States and ant bites are all too common. At a moment’s notice, these aggressive pests can swarm onto your skin and administer multiple fierce bites! What are some natural ways to treat a red ant bite?
First – make sure you remove the menacing insect(s) from your skin by pouring water on the affected area to wash them off, jumping into the pool, or, if no water is handy, just swat them off right quick! Then, the sooner you treat the bite, the better.
Second – treat the venom that has invaded your skin and beyond. Red ant bites look similar to a small red pimple like bump and are very itchy and sometimes puss filled. Wash these bites off with cool soapy water. Apply ice as soon as possible to take down the swelling and itchiness.
Next – here are some additional things to try. Pick the one method that you think will work best for you.
Vinegar is very astringent and will help reduce the chance of an infection and also cut down the itching. Put vinegar onto a cotton ball and rub it onto the affected area.
Baking soda will also reduce the chance of an infection and help with that burning itch. Mix about 1 Tbsp of baking soda with 1 Tbsp of water and apply to skin.
Aloe is cooling and soothing to a bug bite. Make an aloe slushy by combining equal parts of fresh aloe leaf, ice, and water in a blender, and then apply the slushy to the skin and wrap it with a bandage or cloth. Let it set for about 30 minutes.
Mint Toothpaste – Believe it or not, toothpaste will ease the itching and swelling! The peppermint is the magic ingredient. Alternatively, add 3 drops of peppermint essential oil to 1 Tbsp of baking soda and 1 Tbsp of water. Mix and apply to area.
Oatmeal – This option is bit sloppy, but it works. Grind some oatmeal up in a blender and pour into bowl. Add equal parts warm water. Stir and apply to skin for about a half hour, and then rinse off.
Ant Bite Research
Based on in vitro and animal studies, avenanthramides from oats were a potent skin anti-itch and anti-inflammatory. From: Sur, R., Nigam, A., Grote, D., Liebel, F., & Southall, M. D. (2008). Avenanthramides, polyphenols from oats, exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-itch activity. Archives of dermatological research, 300(10), 569.
Colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) has been used for centuries as a topical treatment for various skin conditions and was used in a blind study on twenty-nine female subjects with mild to moderate itching on their dry lower legs. The oatmeal significantly improved skin dryness, texture, and itch intensity. From: Michelle Garay, M. S., Judith Nebus, M. B. A., & Menas Kizoulis, B. A. (2015). Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 14(1), 43-48.
Orey, C. (2009). The healing powers of vinegar: A complete guide to nature’s most remarkable Remedy. Kensington Publishing Corp.
Johnston, C. S., & Gaas, C. A. (2006). Vinegar: medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect. Medscape General Medicine, 8(2), 61.
This article provided a review of research on aloe and wound healing. From: Vera, A. (1989). Wound healing, oral & topical activity of Aloe vera. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, 79, 559-562.
Studying aloe components in vitro, antioxidant activity was correlated with phenolic content and anti-inflammatory activity was associated with catechin tannins compounds. From: Kammoun, M., Miladi, S., Ali, Y. B., Damak, M., Gargouri, Y., & Bezzine, S. (2011). In vitro study of the PLA2 inhibition and antioxidant activities of Aloe vera leaf skin extracts. Lipids in health and disease, 10(1), 30.
Applications of menthol and cooling reduced skin itching. From: Bromma, B., Scharein, E., Darsow, U., & Ring, J. (1995). Effects of menthol and cold on histamine-induced itch and skin reactions in man. Neuroscience letters, 187(3), 157-160.
A blend of guar gum hydrogel with peppermint essential oil reduced itching in patients with burn scars in this multi-center controlled study of 74 patients that had severe burns. From: Wu, J., Xu, R., Zhan, R., Luo, G., Niu, X., Liu, Y., … & Lau, J. Y. N. (2016). Effective symptomatic treatment for severe and intractable pruritus associated with severe burn-induced hypertrophic scars: A prospective, multicenter, controlled trial. Burns, 42(5), 1059-1066.
A triple-blind clinical trial of 96 randomly selected pregnant women with itching, showed peppermint oil 0.5% in sesame oil reduced itching. From: Amjadi, M. A., Mojab, F., & Kamranpour, S. B. (2012). The effect of peppermint oil on symptomatic treatment of pruritus in pregnant women. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research: IJPR, 11(4), 1073.
Fifty patients suffering from chronic itching showed reduced symptoms with the topical application of 5% dilution peppermint oil. From: Elsaie, L. T., El Mohsen, A. M., Ibrahim, I. M., Mohey-Eddin, M. H., & Elsaie, M. L. (2016). Effectiveness of topical peppermint oil on symptomatic treatment of chronic pruritus. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 9, 333.
By: Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, Registered Aromatherapist, LMT