Tag: rashes

Fire Ant Bites

A classic fire ant mound popping out of a nice green lawn.
A classic fire ant mound popping out of a nice green lawn. Photo by Bart Drees.

Are you worried about your kids getting bit by fire ants?

If not, then you don’t live in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas, where they have been around for a while.

Fire Ants

Fire ants are thought to have been imported on ships into Mobile, Alabama from South America. They have continued to spread ever since, lately making it as far as eastern New Mexico, the southern half of Oklahoma, and parts of California.

Like imported killer bees, fire ants are more aggressive than native ants.

Many of us get annoyed when we see large fire ant mounds pop up in our yards after it rains, but it can be really concerning one or more fire ants bite or sting your child.

Symptoms of Fire Ant Bites

While many insects bite, it is the classic behavior of fire ants that can make their bites so much worse.

When disturbed, fire ants emerge aggressively, crawling up vertical surfaces, biting and stinging “all at once”.

Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Project

In a typical situation, a toddler or preschooler steps on a fire ant mound in the yard, and before you know it, dozens of fire ants are covering their feet and legs. Or they fall onto the mound, with the fire ants all over their hands and arms.

As you scramble to move your child and get the ants off (quickly rub them off with a cloth or your own hand), they will likely all start stinging.

Multiple fire ant bites on a child's hand.
Multiple fire ant bites on a child’s hand. Photo by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Fortunately, very few people are allergic to fire ant stings, which might trigger a whole body reaction, with dizziness, shortness of breath, and hives, etc.. The redness, swelling, and white-yellow pustule at the site of the bite are usually the normal symptoms of a local reaction to the fire ant venom.

The pustules go away over a few days to weeks. There is no need to pop or try to drain them. In fact, popping them might lead to their getting infected. It’s better to leave them alone.

After you are bit, it is going to hurt or burn for a few minutes too – that’s why they are called fire ants.

How do you treat fire ant bites?

After you remove the ants, basic first aid and treatment for fire ant bites might include washing the area with soap and then using a cool compress, oral antihistamines, and topical steroids to treat itching.

And of course, seek immediate medical attention if your child is having an allergic reaction to the bites or if it appears that the bites are later getting infected, with increased pain and swelling when you would think that they should be improving.

What To Know About Fire Ant Bites

Although fire ant bites are rarely dangerous or life-threatening, your best bet in protecting your kids is to get rid of any fire ants in your yard and in other places that they play. You might also encourage your kids to wear shoes (not sandals or Crocs) and socks when walking or playing outside.

For More Information on Fire Ant Bites

Fifth Disease

Fifth disease, also called erythema infectiosum, is another common viral infection that most kids get in early childhood.

Like roseola, fifth disease is a viral disease that causes a rash.

It is caused by parvovirus B19.

Symptoms start with a red rash on your child’s cheek, giving them the appearance that they have been slapped. And that’s where Fifth disease’s other name comes from – slapped cheek disease.

This slapped cheek rash is often subtle, so that many parents think that the rash is from the sun or wind. They often don’t think that their child might be ‘sick’ until a few days later, when they often get a pink, lacy rash on their arms and legs.

This rash often comes and goes, being more obvious when the child is overheated, and may even appear on their back, chest, and legs. It can linger for weeks and eventually goes away without treatment.

Fortunately, kids are not contagious while they have this rash. They were contagious during the week before they developed the rash.

Like roseola, fifth disease can be serious more those with immune system problems. It can also be serious for pregnant women who aren’t immune and for those with hemolytic anemia and sickle cell disease.

In addition to a rash, adults with fifth disease can also have joint pain.

What To Know About Fifth Disease

Fifth disease is a common viral infection that causes a characteristic rash on a child’s cheeks, arms, and legs that can linger for weeks.

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