How to Treat Scorpion Bites

If you're wondering how to treat scorpion bites, you're not alone. Scorpions actually do not bite, but rather sting their prey as a means of paralyzing or killing their prey before eating it. The mouth parts of a scorpion look much like a claw; the scorpion grabs and crushes its prey before sucking it into its mouth.

The painful bite you experienced? That is most likely a sting, and the reason it hurts so very much is because the scorpion has injected you with venom through its stinger.

Scorpion Stingers
The scorpion's stinger is located at the end of its tail. Scorpions can flick their tails and sting you at an amazingly fast rate; if you accidentally touch or startle a scorpion, it will sting you and get away so fast that you may not even see it. Scorpions hide in dark places such as closets, clothing, bedding, towels, material or shoes, so it's very common for people to get stung when picking up a towel or putting on a pair of shoes. Oftentimes they feel the prick and never see the scorpion that inflicted the wound.

Scorpion Sting Symptoms
In most cases, the sting is extremely painful right away.  You will probably experience the following symptoms:

  • Intense pain at the sting site
  • Mild swelling around sting site
  • Numbness in area of sting
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Excessive salivation

Scorpion Sting Treatment
If you live in an area where scorpions are common, you will need to learn how to treat scorpion stings. Immediate response is essential, especially since some scorpion stings can be lethal, especially for children under age five. Follow these steps if you or someone you know is stung by a scorpion:

  1. Wash the affected area: If possible, get the site of the sting under cold water immediately.
  2. Medicate topically: Apply a layer of ointment containing an antihistamine, a corticosteroid and an analgesic.
  3. Apply ice: Hold a bag of ice over the ointment on the area. The ice will reduce the pain and inflammation.
  4. Medicate orally: Take one dose of Benadryl (antihistamine) and one dose of a pain killer (acetaminophen).
  5. Go to the emergency room: Because some scorpion stings can be fatal, you will need to go to the emergency room to get evaluated for scorpion anti-venom. If possible, get someone else to drive you.
  6. Ice as needed: Keep applying ice until pain is tolerable.  You may experience pain for any length of time between a few hours to a couple days.

Watch for a Serious Reaction
Of all the types of scorpions in the United States, only one type is seriously toxic: the bark scorpion. The bark scorpion is found in Arizona, California and New Mexico. The sting of the bark scorpion can cause serious symptoms, including anaphylactic shock, which can result in death. If you notice any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical care by calling 911:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Hyperventilation
  • Racing Pulse or Heartbeat
  • Disorientation
  • Anaphylactic shock

Items to Pack for a Scorpion Sting Treatment Package
If you live in or are traveling to an area in which scorpions are known to dwell, pack a small pack of the following:

  • An ointment containing an antihistamine, a corticosteroid and an analgesic
  • One oral dose of Benadryl
  • One oral dose of acetaminophen

All three of these items are small enough to fit into a wallet, purse, knapsack or first aid kit.

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