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Acne Medicine for Fire Ant Bites

Q. I live in Florida where there are lots of fire ants. I garden, which means I periodically get bitten.

I have tried everything from Diprolene (a corticosteroid) to crushed walnut shells to immersion in a swimming pool without much success.

I recently tried benzoyl peroxide (10 percent). I did it as a controlled experiment, in that I had four bites and treated two of them. The next day, the two treated bites were much smaller and less itchy than the controls.

I applied the benzoyl peroxide within an hour of being bitten. I scraped off the top of the bite and rubbed the cream into the open bite and surrounding area.

I am a physician and Army Reservist. My theory is that this drug penetrates the skin well, so the peroxide can get to the toxins, oxidizing and neutralizing them.

A. Benzoyl peroxide is a common ingredient in over-the-counter acne products. Your experiment is fascinating and we hope others will test it and report back.

Bug bites are a challenge at this time of year. Over the last 35 years we have collected lots of simple treatments, from baking soda and vinegar to raw onion and toothpaste, in our book The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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