Centipede Bite and Millipede Reaction

Centipede bites are associated with pain, localized redness (erythema) and swelling. The bite can be recognized by two small puncture wounds from the jaws of the centipede. Redness and soreness (inflammation) of the lymph channels (lymphangitis), lymph nodes (lymphadenitis), and areas of complete tissue death (necrosis) are uncommon complications.

Millipedes do not bite. But when handled, they do secrete a toxin. The toxin causes local skin reactions. These can be severe. They can progress to:

  • Inflammation and redness (erythema).

  • Blister formation (vesiculation ).

  • Tissue death (necrosis).


  • The pain from centipede bites can usually be controlled by applying ice to the bitten area.

  • The wound should be washed and watched for signs of infection.

  • The toxic secretions of millipedes should be washed from the skin. Use large amounts of soap and water.

  • Local steroids may be applied.

  • Eye contact with these secretions requires immediate irrigation and application of corticosteroid drops or ointment.

You might need a tetanus shot now if:

  • You have no idea when you had the last one.

  • You have never had a tetanus shot before.

  • Your cut had dirt in it.

  • If you need a tetanus shot, and you decide not to get one, there is a rare chance of getting tetanus. Sickness from tetanus can be serious.

If you got a tetanus shot, your arm may swell, get red and warm to the touch at the shot site. This is common and not a problem.


  • You develop redness, swelling, or increasing pain in the affected area.

  • Pus develops in the affected area.

  • You develop chills and/or an unexplained oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C).

  • A foul smell comes from the wound or area affected.