What is a scorpion?
Scorpions, found mostly across the southern and western United States, are up to 3 in. (7.6 cm) in length. They have eight legs and a pair of pincers like a crab has. The stinger, which injects venom, is located at the end of a narrow tail that curves around and over the back of the scorpion's body. Although some scorpions are not poisonous, others have venom strong enough to kill a person.
Some scorpions are found in cool, damp places, such as basements, junk piles, and wood piles. Other scorpions are found in desert areas.
What are the symptoms of a scorpion sting?
Symptoms of a scorpion sting may include:
- Intense immediate pain lasting from minutes to 24 hours.
- Swelling, itching, and a change in skin color.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Anxiety, drowsiness, and fainting.
- Increased saliva, tears, and sweat.
- Numbness of the tongue.
- Vision problems.
- Trouble breathing.
How is a scorpion sting treated?
If you have been stung by a scorpion, it's important to talk to a doctor immediately. Medicine (antivenom) may be needed to counteract the effects of the scorpion sting.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
- Try an over-the-counter medicine for itching, redness, swelling, and pain. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Take an over-the-counter antihistamine to help calm the itching or swelling.
- Put a hydrocortisone 1% cream or calamine lotion on the skin.
- Don't scratch or rub the skin around the area.
Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine