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Child and adult ant bite: symptoms, what to do

Medical expert of the article

Allergist, immunologist
, medical expert
Last reviewed: 11.04.2020

Many people just love to relax in nature: on a forest clearing, in the park or just in the country. However, it often happens that even the best rest is spoiled by insects - in particular, ants. After all, an ant bite can be very painful. By the way, an ordinary domestic goose can sometimes bite, which sometimes lives primarily in the private sector.

Are ant-like attacks dangerous? What to do with the bite site, how to handle it? How to accelerate healing? You must admit that there are many questions within this topic. Therefore, we will try to answer the main ones.

Are ant bites harmful?

In most cases, an ant bite does not pose any danger to humans. However, formic acid, which the insect secretes at the time of prokus skin can be dangerous. In the presence of individual hypersensitivity, this acid can provoke a rapid development of allergy, up to anaphylaxis. 

They say about increased danger in the event that the ant secretion falls on the mucous tissues of a person - for example, in the eyes. The fact is that the acid does not always penetrate only into the skin: the insect is able to “spray” the secret for a distance of up to 0.3 m. Therefore, it is always necessary to be vigilant when in contact with ants.

What are dangerous ant bites? Another possible harm is an increased risk of infection of the bitten place. Especially often the infectious pathogen enters the tissue if a person scratches a wound. This is absolutely impossible to do. And with the appearance of edema and suppuration from the site of the bite, you should always consult a doctor.

The benefits of ant bites

Ant bites, some people use for the purpose of recovery - for the prevention and treatment of diseases. The benefit lies in the fact that formic acid is rich in zinc, enzymes, polypeptides and various organic compounds, which together has an immune-stimulating and regenerating effect. Thanks to this therapy, it is possible to stop the development of such diseases as atherosclerosis, arthrosis, varicose veins, gout, sciatica, as well as other chronic pathologies in the body.

Some adherents of this unconventional therapeutic method believe that ants commit their bites in strictly defined places, directing the healing secret directly to the diseased organ.

The essence of therapy is as follows. In the forest, you should find an anthill, take off your outerwear, dip inside the ant heap whisks of birch twigs and transfer the insects to your body with it. At the same time, the head should be protected so that the goosebumps do not move to the face and ears. The duration of the procedure is about five minutes. Next, you need to move away from the anthill and shake off all insects (for this you can use the same broom). If desired, the therapy can be carried out longer - up to 10-15 minutes. After returning home, you need to wash with warm water, preferably in the shower.[1]

Such treatment may be useful, but it can be done only if you are sure that you are not allergic to the bite of ants. Otherwise, therapy will cause a lot of complications and health problems.


Most often, we are confronted with the bites of ordinary black or red ants. In addition to separation by color, ants are also home and forest: the latter have larger sizes - up to about 8 mm. The bites of large ants are always more painful, and they heal longer, but the damage received from a tiny domestic insect can be not only small, but also practically imperceptible.

The bite of any ant can significantly spoil the mood. But in most cases, these miniature creatures simply protect themselves from danger, attacking the enemy, who climbed into his house.

At the time of the bite, a small amount of ant secretion penetrates the skin. This amount is enough to hit another insect, but for humans this micro dose is too small and cannot harm. Another thing, if there is a multiple attack of insects, or there is an allergy to formic acid - in such a situation requires urgent medical attention.

Symptoms of the ant bite

Ants run very fast, so it is not always possible to “catch” an insect at the bite site. In addition, traces of bites can also be located in completely different places - due to the rapid movement of the goose bumps.

The moment when the ant bites is difficult to confuse with something: there is a sharp point pain, which is stronger than with a mosquito bite. The affected area immediately reveals itself by the appearance of a swollen tubercle and localized or diffuse redness.

By pushing through the skin, the insect secretes formic acid into the tissue - a toxin, which in large quantities can even become deadly. Therefore, it is believed that single bites do not cause particular harm to a person (if he is not allergic to this very acid). But multiple lesions, and especially - in children, are really fraught with great health troubles.

The first signs appear immediately after the ant attack:

  • red spot or point on the skin;
  • slight swelling, in the form of a tumor;
  • pain;
  • itchy sensation;
  • in severe cases, nausea, dizziness.

If the victim has an allergy to formic acid, the symptoms will be much brighter and more serious:

  • heart rhythm disorders;
  • changes in blood pressure;
  • speech impairment;
  • itching and swelling of the skin throughout the body;
  • respiratory failure;
  • pallor of the skin;
  • disturbance of consciousness.

If these symptoms are detected, a doctor should be consulted without hesitating a single second: it is optimal to call “emergency care”, or to quickly deliver the patient to the nearest medical facility.

What do ant bites look like?

From the side of the affected place is similar to a mosquito bite, just has a few large sizes. Just as after the attack of mosquitoes, itching and burning are usually present. In a hypertrophied reaction, a rash, swelling, and localized fever may occur. Normally, such manifestations should disappear on their own for three or four days. If an allergic reaction develops, then additional signs are often rash all over the body, local itching, difficulty breathing, changes in blood pressure.[2]

The bites of different types of ants

In our region mainly two basic species of ants live:

  • Domestic insects that live in residential buildings. Their dimensions are approximately 3 mm, the color of the body is brown. The bites of domestic ants are rare: they are among the most harmless representatives of the ant genus.
  • Forest insects that are found in nature. Their size is always larger than that of domestic relatives - up to 9 mm, and the color of the body is close to reddish-brown or black. These insects build specific dwellings - anthills. The bites of forest ants are really common, as they attack all living creatures that pose even the slightest danger to their livelihoods. If a person even accidentally damages their home, or a path, then it can be attacked by ant "guards". The bites of these ant representatives are painful and can cause the development of allergies.

In general, there are more than a dozen species of such insects on the planet - and many of them are quite dangerous.

For example, a bullet ant can bite much more painfully than a common insect. In its secretions, in addition to the acid, ponerotoxin is present - a fairly strong poison and an irritant. Many compare the bullet ant bite to a gunshot wound: such severe pain lasts for a day, and only then begins to recede. These insects live in South Africa, so everyone who is going to travel to South African countries should be careful.

The bites of red ants, also called fire ants, are especially common on the South American continent. However, these insects can be found in North America, in Australia, and even in some Asian countries. The bites of fire ants are often compared with microscopic burns: the secretion includes a poisonous agent solenopsin, a powerful allergen that can cause serious allergic complications, even death.[3]

In our region, people are most often bitten by red ants - they are both domestic and forest, but mostly the latter attack people. The bites of red ants are quite painful, cause itching. Externally, they are accompanied by redness, similar to mosquitoes. Attacking an ant is unpleasant, but not so dangerous as with multiple lesions.

The bites of black ants rarely occur, since such insects practically do not attack humans: this happens only when there is a real threat to their existence. For example, a black ant is able to bite if it is pressed against the clothing or body of a person. This bite is predominantly painless and heals quickly, leaving no traces of tissue damage.

Many people wonder if the bite of flying ants is different from ordinary, crawling insects. The fact is that flying goosebumps are not a separate ant species. That is, these are the same ants that “wing” in a certain period of time for the purpose of reproduction - and this can be both females and males. By themselves, such insects are not dangerous, and attack only when there is a threat to their life - in this case, from the person. Do not touch the goose bumps - including flying ones. This is the best prevention of attacks from their side. The bite of a female ant as a whole has the same symptoms as in males: redness, itchy sensations, transient burning sensation and the appearance of a small, inflamed tubercle.

As we have said, the insect will never attack a person without clear reasons. The ant does this solely for the purpose of protecting itself, its kin and dwelling. The bite of yellow ants, or any other ant representatives can only be provoked by human activity, so be careful when going out into nature.

Summer residents, gardeners and those who often have to deal with gardening, know firsthand what a garden ant bite is. True, the signs of damage can be radically different, due to the individual characteristics of human organisms. The pain is usually not stronger than with a mosquito bite, but a red spot of different size forms in the area of prokus, less often a blister. During a normal reaction of the body, discomfort and external manifestations stop themselves on their own for 3-4 days.

In the ant body there is a lot of specific poisonous acid: the insect uses it not only for self-defense, but also for food processing. When meeting with a person, a goose may consider that something threatens her life, so he is preparing to defend himself: even the bite of an ordinary ant is accompanied by injection of a small dose of an acidic secretion under human skin. You should not blame this insect: it is only the instinct of self-preservation and physiology.

In addition to the above, I would like to mention another ant species - this is a German wasp, or the so-called velvet ant. The bite of velvet ant scientists call one of the most painful bites of all known insects. An attack of pain recedes only a few hours later. In all other respects, the symptoms resemble the bites of other ant representatives. Such insects are distinguished by a beautiful and dense scalp, and they live mainly in steppe and desert regions. For example, they can be found in all territories of southern European countries, as well as in the south of Russia and Ukraine.

Ant bites in a child

If the parents have an increased sensitivity to formic acid, but it is possible that the child will have a hypertrophied reaction to the bite of the ant. By the way, any child's body always reacts to insect bites more rapidly than an adult. The greatest danger is multiple bites.

Allergy symptoms in some cases do not appear immediately: the bitten place turns red, swells, hurts or itches. Further, the reaction becomes more pronounced: the swelling "diverges", the affected area expands. Most often, within a few days, the condition returns to normal. But with the appearance of such signs as swelling of the whole body or limbs, tachycardia, shortness of breath, dizziness, pallor of the skin, rash on the body, you need to urgently call a doctor. In children, the allergic process is faster and more intense than in adults. This must be taken into account and not delay in the provision of medical care.

Complications and consequences

With a single bite and the absence of allergies in a person, there are no negative consequences. But after the ingestion of large quantities of formic acid into the bloodstream, a severe toxic state can develop, with allergic manifestations, up to anaphylactic shock and laryngeal edema with suffocation.

It happens that the bite of an ant causes a reaction not only at the site of the lesion, but also throughout the entire limb or even through the body. For example, if the bite fell on a leg, then the entire limb may swell, but the edema lasts for several days, and cases of eosinophilic fasciitis are described.[4]

Patients who are prone to allergic reactions often describe these symptoms and complications:

  • a rash appears far beyond the habitual site;
  • the whole body begins to itch;
  • there is vomiting, spastic abdominal pain;
  • diarrhea begins;
  • there is a feeling of heaviness behind the sternum, breathing becomes difficult;
  • there is hoarseness in the voice, tongue and larynx swells.

At occurrence of the described signs it is necessary to urgently consult a doctor, as there is a real danger of anaphylactic shock - a severe form of an allergic reaction. [5]If timely medical care does not follow, then the victim has a sharp drop in pressure, consciousness is disturbed, and respiratory and cardiac activity can stop.

How much does an ant bite go through?

The term of healing of an ant bite site mainly depends on the quality of the resistance of the human body and on the amount of toxic secretion that enters the bloodstream at the time of the insect's attack.

Most often, a small red dot or tubercle, as well as itching and burning, last for two days (sometimes faster, or a little longer - up to 4-5 days).

With an extensive artifact zone, in the presence of formic acid allergy, the healing time is extended and depends both on the quality of human immunity and on the timeliness and completeness of medical care.

If the victim combs the bitten places, the term healing is lengthened, and the risk of complications increases.

Is it possible to die from the bite of an ant?

A single bite of a common ant will not harm a healthy and strong human body. But for people who have a tendency to allergic reactions, which are hypersensitive to ant secretion, such damage can indeed be fatal - if anaphylactic shock develops - an extremely difficult variant of an allergic reaction. [6]

Here we are talking about a special development of the situation: the human body reacts so strongly to a toxic substance that it affects not only the skin and mucous membranes, but also the respiratory and cardiovascular systems:

  • blood pressure rates suddenly drop;
  • the whole body swells, including the larynx, which leads to impaired respiratory function;
  • begins hypoxia of the brain;
  • violated all vital functions.

Similar symptoms indicate the development of severe complications, including rhabdomyolysis and acute renal failure, hemolytic-uremic syndrome, which can be fatal. [7], [8]It is important to navigate in time, recognize an anaphylactic reaction and urgently seek medical help.

Allergic to ant bites

An allergic process develops if the human immune system overreacts to the introduction into the tissues of a certain toxic substance - in this case, formic acid. Allergy can be mild, transient, or severe, up to the development of anaphylaxis. Depending on this, the symptoms are only local or general.[9]

In mild cases, the bite of an ant simply scratches a little, the itching after an ant bite goes away on its own, or after applying any antihistamine cream.

One of the most typical manifestations of such an allergy is urticaria. It is a blister-like rash that itches, protrudes above the skin, sometimes coalesces. Such blisters after biting ants can not pierce and comb. If you follow all the rules, the acute form of urticaria most often passes for 24-48 hours.

Blisters do not always form in a patient: most often only a small spot is detected after an ant bite. The stain may swell a little, peel off. After a course of treatment with antihistamines, this manifestation disappears without a trace.

A slight swelling after an ant bite can be a normal reaction of the body to a toxic agent in the tissue. However, the spread of puffiness to the entire limb, the appearance of puffiness on the face or on certain parts of it (lips, eyelids, tongue) is a sign of the strongest allergic process that requires urgent medical attention. Angioedema always has a dense consistency, the patient may experience fever, drop in blood pressure, impaired consciousness. In difficult cases, there are difficulties with breathing. Such a reaction is a life threatening condition. Therefore, any delay in medical care may lead to irreparable consequences.[10]

Diagnostics of the ant bite

A person does not always understand that he was bitten by an ant. In some cases, the bite is found after the fact that there is no longer a “culprit” on the body. If, after an insect attack, pain and burning pass on their own, without going to a doctor, then you should not worry. But with the development of a violent reaction to the doctor, it is important to determine what exactly caused the pathology: whether it was a bite of an ant or another living creature.

Differential diagnosis

Differential diagnosis begins with the fact that the doctor asks the victim about the symptoms, initial manifestations, the circumstances of their occurrence. This is followed by a medical examination with the possible connection of additional methods (blood pressure measurement, evaluation of cardiac activity and respiratory function).

The presence of immunoglobulin E is determined by skin tests and laboratory tests.

Evaluation of certain allergic antibodies in the blood test has several advantages and has no contraindications. One test allows you to check the reaction to many allergens. The basic techniques are:

  • radio allergy-sorbent test;
  • linked immunosorbent assay;
  • fluorescent enzyme immunoassay test;
  • chemiluminescent test.

If necessary, use provocative and elimination-provocative tests.

Ant bites usually differentiate from the bites of other insects - mosquitoes, midges, spiders, bedbugs, fleas, scorpions, etc.

Treatment of the ant bite

If the ant bite is not accompanied by severe symptoms, it will be enough topical use of drugs to relieve itching and relieve redness. Such drugs can be gel Fenistil, or funds, which include panthenol. Ointments with hormonal components are used only on the recommendation of a doctor, because they have a large number of contraindications and restrictions.[11]

Medicines with antihistamine activity can eliminate the swelling and itching caused by the bite. The most common means of II and III generation - for example, Claritin, Loratadin [12]. However, the first generation drugs have their advantages: they have an impressive list of side effects, but they act faster.

With the development of an acute allergic process, the doctor first conducts an injection of adrenaline. After normalization of vital functions, the patient is prescribed treatment according to the symptoms.[13]

What to do when biting an ant?

  • Move away from the place where insects accumulate - for example, from an anthill or from an ant trail.
  • Remove or shake ants off. Carefully inspect the clothing and body, find the bitten places.
  • If a limb turns out to be strongly bitten, give it an exalted position. To other places you can put a cold compress or ice. This will prevent swelling as well as relieve itching and numbness.
  • If possible, wash the burned areas with soapy water (optimally - with a simple soap).
  • Use local antihistamine ointments (they can be obtained at any pharmacy without a prescription) to reduce puffiness and itching.
  • If for several hours the swelling does not disappear, or the condition even worsens, then it is necessary to consult a doctor.
  • When blistering with liquid, do not try to open them: they should heal on their own. If an autopsy did occur, then it is necessary to immediately treat the wounds - at least with soapy water, or with furatsilina solution, or with hydrogen peroxide.
  • It is necessary daily to carefully consider the place of bites. If there are suspicious symptoms, or the condition does not improve, then it is necessary to consult a doctor in the near future.

What not to do with a bite ant?

  • You can not try to squeeze the poison out of the wound, comb blisters, pick and cut the skin.
  • To avoid infection, do not place dirty objects, earth on the bite site, or touch the wound with dirty hands.
  • It is unacceptable to engage in self-treatment, if there are signs of an acute allergic process (swelling on the face, confusion of speech, impaired consciousness, itching and swelling throughout the body, shortness of breath).

First aid for the bite of ants

First aid for the attack of ants can be divided into stages. In general, help is provided, depending on the situation: some of the steps can be missed if the necessary funds are not at hand (for example, if there is no laundry soap, then soda solution can be used to wash the wounds, or just plenty of clean water).

  1. Rinse the affected area with clean water (preferably running water for 5-10 minutes).
  2. Attach cold to the bite, and if a limb is affected, then give it a sublime position.
  3. Treat the ant's bite with any disinfectant (if there are no such remedies at hand, then even vodka, crumpled psyllium leaf, or lemon juice, or strong saline or soda solution will do).

The victim should drink warm tea, water - in large quantities. [14]

How to treat ant bites?

Even for a short while going to nature, take a first-aid kit with you: sometimes the necessary minimum set of medications helps to preserve health and avoid trouble. What is recommended to put in the pharmacy bag:

  • a bottle of alcohol or vodka;
  • hydrogen peroxide;
  • any anti-allergic ointment (for example, Fenistil);
  • universal salve-type ointment or balm asterisk;
  • antihistamine tablets (you can usually Suprastin).

All of these tools will help well, both from the bites of ants, and in the attack of other insects. To begin with, it is necessary to treat the bitten area of the skin with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, and then apply a little ointment (Fenistil or Rescuer). If necessary, you can additionally take an antihistamine.

If the unpleasant symptoms in the form of redness and itching do not disappear, or even worsen, then you should not lose time: it is better to visit a dermatologist or allergist as early as possible, or simply contact the emergency room.

Remedies for ant bites

As a means to help alleviate the condition after an ant attack, it is allowed to use the following medications:

  • Zyrtec in the form of a solution is taken in an amount of 20 drops per intake (daily dosage is not more than 10 mg). Zirtek tablets take one piece once a day.
  • Telfast is taken in the amount of one tablet once a day, with water.
  • Claritin take one tablet or 10 ml of syrup daily.
  • Tavegil take 0.001 g twice a day (as directed by the doctor, the dosage can be increased to 0.004 g / day).

Serious adverse events during treatment with these drugs are usually not observed. Occasionally marked pain in the head, weakness, fatigue.

In about two to four days from the start of treatment, the discomfort of the bites should disappear. If itching and pain persist, you should definitely visit a doctor. Allergic manifestations are treated on an outpatient basis, with the use of complex drugs: antiallergic and anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids.

To date, there should be no question about how to anoint the bites of ants, ointments from the bites of ants are sold in any pharmacy:

  • Gel Fenistil has anti-allergic, antipruritic action, performs the function of a local anesthetic. The gel begins to act already during the first minutes after application to the skin. Use the drug 2-4 times a day.
  • Lorizan gel is represented by the active component loratadine, a blocker of H 1 -histamine receptors. The drug eliminates the main signs of discomfort - itching, burning, swelling - after 30-60 minutes after application. The tool is recommended to use 4 times a day.
  • Tsetrilev gel is an external herbal preparation containing silver nanoclusters that facilitate the access of therapeutic components to the tissue. The gel is applied to the bitten places three times a day, until the elimination of unpleasant symptoms.
  • Psilo-Balsam is an antihistamine clear gel preparation that should be applied to the affected areas up to 4 times per day. The product is suitable for use in children and adults.

How to remove the itch, if you can not quickly go to the pharmacy? Alternative means will help:

  • make a slurry of baking soda and water, apply to the bite site, or thickly grease, leave for a few minutes or use a bandage;
  • make a slurry of salt and water, applied to the wounds in the form of a compress.

Excellent antipruritic effect have:

  • Balsam Asterisk (Golden Star) has a good antipruritic action, thanks to its rich natural composition: it is menthol, mint and clove oil, cinnamon, etc.
  • Solution Menovazin - perfectly soothes the bite, as part of the tool includes menthol, novocaine and anesthesin.
  • Ointment Menovazan - ointment form of the drug, a kind of analog solution Menovazin.
  • Cream Rescuer is a universal remedy on a natural basis, which is appropriate to use for the treatment and prevention of various skin problems, including ant bites.
  • Boro-plus is a well-known antiseptic cream with a wide range of uses. This drug has antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, healing, antipruritic effect.

All of the above external drugs are usually well tolerated, and only in some cases can develop a local allergic reaction.

Alternative treatment

An accessible and straightforward way to alleviate the state of health after an ant bite is considered as follows: 1 tsp is mixed. Baking soda and 200 ml of warm boiled water, the resulting solution is used for lotions on the bitten zones. Redness and discomfort will pass soon.[15]

Another available method is the treatment of the affected area with a solution of ammonia (mix 100 ml of water and 20 ml of ammonia). You can also use for processing:

  • fish fat;
  • olive, clove oil;
  • wormwood juice;
  • apple cider vinegar, or regular table vinegar (not essence!).

A good anti-inflammatory effect is found by smearing the bitten places with a sliced onion. [16]You can also make bandages with a fresh bay leaf.[17]

Herbal medicine

To get rid of itching and rash as soon as possible after the bite of ants, it is recommended to use a medicinal collection based on mint leaves, young oak bark, and St. John's wort. The same mixture of ingredients in the amount of 1 tbsp. L pour 200 ml of boiling water, insist under the lid for 40 minutes. The infusion is filtered and used for setting lotions.

If there is no time for preparation of infusions, but it is necessary to act quickly, then such simple ways will help:

  • chop (pound) fresh leaves of parsley or plantain. Gruel is applied to the bite area;
  • fresh burdock leaves or yarrow are applied to the wounds (possibly under a bandage);
  • Apply aloe leaves (cut to the side of the wound), or cut the washed rhizome of dandelion. [18], [19]

Homeopathy with ant bite

Some people especially often encounter ant bites - for example, by virtue of their profession. Therefore, they are advised to take care of mitigating or alleviating unpleasant moments associated with insect bites in advance.

In addition to traditional medicine, homeopathy comes to the rescue: this type of treatment has several drugs at once that can eliminate the pain, relieve swelling and itching after an ant attack. The following drugs are taken several times, 3-5 grains, to improve well-being.

  • Ledum palustre is a preparation of wild marsh wild rosemary, which helps not only with ant bites, but also hornets, fleas and even scorpions.
  • Caladium Seguinum - a means of eliminating even a strong burning sensation and pain when bitten.
  • Apis mellifika - helps with piercing pain, with hypersensitivity to formic secretion, with the development of an allergic reaction.
  • Hypericum - Hypericum, can be used to treat bites of ants on the hands or feet.
  • Belladonna - suitable for first aid after an ant bite.

Any of these tools is safe, does not cause adverse events: they can be easily purchased in homeopathic pharmacies. In low potency - 6, 12 or 30 - drugs can be taken independently. However, it will be much better if the medicine is selected by a competent homeopathic doctor during an individual intake.

It should be noted that the numerous studies performed do not provide conclusive evidence that homeopathic medicines are clinically different from placebo. Until more convincing research results are obtained, homeopathy cannot be considered as an evidence-based form of therapy.[20], [21], [22]

Surgical treatment for the bite of an ant

The surgeon's help may be needed only if the infection gets into the wounds, with the development of inflammatory processes in the skin and soft tissues. Practicing the opening and drainage of purulent foci, treatment of wounds, promoting their faster healing.

In other cases, the need for surgical treatment is absent.


Avoiding an ant bite is easy. These insects almost never attack a person for no reason: the main condition is that they should not be disturbed and their homes damaged.

In general, experts give the following preventive recommendations:

  • Before you go out into nature (it doesn't matter if it is a forest, a park zone, or just a private house), think about clothing with long sleeves and adjacent cuffs. Shoes - for example, sneakers, must be high.
  • Choosing a place for a halt or a snack, take a good look: there should be no anthills within a radius of several meters.
  • In no case do not ruin the anthills and do not try in any way to harm the goosebumps.
  • If you see an unfamiliar insect, then do everything to avoid contact with it.

You should be especially careful if children are resting with you: an ant bite is much more dangerous for them than for adults. [23]


An ant bite often does not affect the health and well-being of a person, but it can leave a negative mark: in many respects it depends on the individual sensitivity of the organism. Multiple bites in children and the elderly are considered to be especially unfavorable: these categories of patients are recommended to seek medical help even for single bites.

When the body is sensitive and allergic to insects, an attack of insects can lead to the development of a severe allergic response, including anaphylactic shock and even death (if timely medical care was not provided).

Fortunately, in most cases, the ant bite has a favorable prognosis: the wound heals and disappears without a trace.

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