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How to treat scorpion stings

scorpion-300x222Scorpions, part of the arachnid class, can look like something out of a horror movie.  Like spiders, they have eight legs, thin pinchers (called pedipalps), and a venomous stinger on their tail.  The average size of a scorpion is about 6 cm, but the largest known scorpion grows up to 21 cm! There are hundreds of types of scorpions.  Thankfully, most of them are harmless, but a small handful – yikes! – of them can be dangerous and even potentially lethal to humans. Scorpions are found on all continents besides Antarctica, though in some places such as New Zealand and Great Britain they are not naturally occurring.  Scorpions may be found in, basically, every ecosystem, as they are incredible adapters and are able to survive on even just one insect a year by altering their metabolism!

Let’s shed some more light on scorpions:  Did you know that they glow when placed under ultraviolet light?  No one is quite sure why this occurs; it may be a warning signal to possible predators or even a way to lure their prey.  Either way, it is definitely pretty creepy.

For the most part, the scorpion’s venom is adapted to their lifestyle, and since their diet mostly consists of insects, their venom is typically relatively harmless to humans.  Only about 25 species of scorpions are known to be lethal to humans; the majority of these are part of the Buthidae family.  The two most common lethal scorpions found in the United States are the Arizona Bark Scorpion and the Striped Bark Scorpion.  The Arizona Bark Scorpion is mainly found in the Southwest United States; fatalities from the sting of this scorpion are rare and the greatest risk is for the elderly and young children. The Striped Bark Scorpion is found more in the Central South and the Midwest of the United States; death is also fairly rare with the Striped Bark Scorpion, but the sting can be extremely painful.

So what happens if a human gets stung by a scorpion?  Some common symptoms of a scorpion sting are a tingling or burning at the sting site, numbness, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, blurry vision, or seizures.  In some rare cases, pancreatitis – a painful inflammation of the pancreas – may occur.  Some symptoms of pancreatitis are abdominal pain, chills, fever, sweating, and nausea.  Onset of symptoms is usually quite rapid and can last for between 24 to 48 hours.

If stung by a scorpion, the first thing to do is to make sure you get yourself out of harm’s way and avoid another sting.  If possible, try to remember what color the scorpion is or snap a photo with your smartphone; do NOT try to catch the scorpion because you might end up getting stung a second time!

Once out of harm’s way, call 911 and then wash the sting site with soap and water, apply a cold compress for “10 minutes on, then 10 minutes off.”  Importantly, avoid aspirin or ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) because these can cause the venom to spread through the body more quickly.  Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) can be taken to help relieve the pain at the site of the sting.  Sometimes even more powerful pain medications, like opiates, are required to help alleviate pain. Taking an oral antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl) can help reduce some of the swelling and itching, as well.  Immobilize the area so as to protect the wound and to help delay spreading the venom through the blood more quickly.  Do not attempt suction, and do not cut into the wound; these are just great ways to ensure an infection!

In general, it is a good idea to go and get checked out at the nearest hospital or health clinic if stung by a scorpion – especially if the species of scorpion is unknown.

24 Comments on How to treat scorpion stings

  1. Was stung by a brown a few minutes ago, i dont feel pain just a numbness and a little swelling, what should i do.

  2. I got bite by a brown scorpion on my leg yesterday it was a little baby size scorpion the pain stop when I put soap and cold water on it. So was else do i need to do. Do want to go to the Doctors.

  3. Go to doctor

  4. I got sting by a Scorpion about 10 minutes ago what should I do?

  5. I was stung Tuesday by a brown scorpion in SC and it swelled some then faded by end of day. Now today is Friday and the mark has returned and itches

  6. Grandson got stung 10 times by scorpion. Gave him Benadryl and Motrin. Any suggestions on what else we can do?

    • I HIGHLY SUGGEST THE HOSPITAL. HOW OLD IS HE? did you catch what the scorpion looked like? How big was it.

  7. stung by a Arizona bark scorpion..three times in bed..two hours later..couldn’t focus..tremors.couldnt breath..or talk.couldnt drive or see the phone to make a call..scary ..but I survived.

  8. Was stung on finger by a brown scorpion. Slung it off and could not find it. 5 hrs later still stinging and numb feeling.throat started burning and itching but only lasted about 10 minutes. A little nauseated.was told to put bleach on it. But still stinging.

  9. Anonymous // May 25, 2016 at 1:19 pm // Reply

    How do you heel a scorpion bite ?!?!

  10. I was stung last night with a scorpion but it never get hurt or inflamed, i never experience pain… do i need to go to clinic or not at all? thank you…

  11. How do you even cure a scorpion bite?

    • Drink some milk

    • It is not a question of curing a scorpion bite, it is a question of stopping the spread of the venom. Essential oils such as Frankincense is really useful to have on hand against a scorpion bite. If you don’t have anything like that (which not most of us do) anything that has ammonia works. Ex: house hold items like Windex.

  12. pretty baby // April 10, 2016 at 11:30 am // Reply

    How to make it stop hurting??

  13. Gods own son // April 6, 2016 at 9:11 pm // Reply

    I was stung by a scorpion at my neck cos I was lying down and immediately I applied an anointing oil and prayed on it later I ate onion which a friend recommended though I still felt d pain but nothing more and dat was d end of it all.

  14. am fealing pain..now….

  15. Just got stung about 45 min. Ago, I was stung twice I first sprayed with bactine ( first Reaction). Then the vinegar then the baking soda paste and it is subsiding think that was the best. But still hurt

  16. Got stung by a scorpion on index finger the scorpion was caught under my hand and the stinger broke off inside my hand … Still have swollen index finger and can not bend ? What do I do ?

  17. Nothing is working it is like something jumping in my arm so now what must I do

  18. I adhered some shoe polish on a stung area,emediatelly the pain is being reduced.

  19. i tried to aplied shoe polise (kiwi)for scorpion bite an it work

  20. Onions and Coke, seriously? I know for jellyfish stings, meat tenderiser works to relieve the sting. If this isn’t a joke can you explain how this might work?

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