Scorpion Stings

Most scorpion stings within North America are relatively harmless. Even the sting from the Arizona bark scorpion, the most dangerous and venomous of the Arizona scorpions, is not likely to be fatal or even have long-lasting effects. Scorpion stings are most dangerous to the very young and the very old. Pets are also at risk.

SYMPTOMS

It is important to recognize scorpion sting symptoms:

  • Immediate pain or burning.

  • Very little swelling.

  • Sensitivity to touch.

  • Numbness or tingling sensation. 

Severe symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Fluid buildup in the lungs.

  • Respiratory problems.

  • Blurred vision.

  • Swallowing difficulties.

  • Abnormal eye movements.

  • Walking problems.

  • Coordination difficulties.

  • Muscle twitching and excess saliva.

TREATMENT

If you are stung by any scorpion, including the Arizona bark scorpion, immediate actions you should take are:

  • Wash the area of the scorpion sting with soap and water.

  • Put ice on the injured area.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 10 minutes. Remove the ice for 10 minutes and repeat as necessary.

  • If you are stung on a limb (arm or leg), elevate the limb to heart level.

  • Call your local emergency services (911 in U.S.). In the U.S., call the National Poison Control Hotline (800-222-1222).

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of a medicine (Anascorp) to treat stings by bark scorpions. Infants, children, and the elderly are the most likely to experience symptoms resulting from severe stings.

You might need a tetanus shot now if:

  • You cannot remember when you had your last tetanus shot.

  • You have never had a tetanus shot.

  • The injury broke your skin.

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

PREVENTION

  • Be careful when camping or during other outdoor activities. Check to make sure a scorpion has not made a home in your clothes, shoes, or sleeping bags.

  • You may use a black light to look for scorpions. Scorpions glow brightly under UV light.

  • Scorpions are basically immune to most pesticides. If you suspect your house has scorpions, call a professional exterminator. Eliminating their food source (other insects) can help.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You develop symptoms from a sting.

  • You have redness, swelling, or increasing pain in the wound.

  • You have pus coming from the wound.

  • You have a fever.

  • You notice a bad smell coming from the wound or dressing.