07 May, 2008

A scalding remedy for fire ant stings

Speaking of fire ants, I might as well relate the only effective remedy I've found for fire ant stings: hot water. By hot, I mean hot. Not so hot that it gives you a burn (or maybe it does and I'm too dim to notice) but hot.

The official theory I've seen online,
including this comment at People's Pharmacy, is that pouring hot water over the affected area draws the histamines to the surface of the skin and washes them away.

Notice that by "official" I mean something akin to urban legend. I've suspected for some time that the true cause of the relief is less exotic: the hot water merely deadens the nerves for a while. I suspect that I've given myself a few mild, first-degree burns using this method. The actual People's Pharmacy experts also suggest that this is the cause.

Whatever the cause, I can vouch from experience that this method works very, very well. I usually pour hot water from the faucet onto my foot. The first few moments bring a combination of exquisite agony and excruciating ecstasy. That's not a typo; it feels just like that. Once it lets up a little, I remove my foot from the bathtub, dry it off, and hobble around a while. It no longer itches, although sometimes it does sting from the heat.

Looking tonight at the People's Pharmacy, I see that one commenter has also recommended Vick's Vapo-Rub. I'd like to say that I'll never have cause to try it, but the sad story is that I will probably report on its effectiveness soon.

I don't recommend epsom salts. They didn't do a thing for me last year.

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