What Should I Do If I Get Stung by a Scorpion?

Medically Reviewed on 8/18/2021
scorpion sting treatment
Most healthy adults don’t need treatment for a scorpion sting except for pain relief. However, here are some home remedies for treating a sting and when you should seek medical help.

The best thing to do after you get stung by a scorpion is to contact your local poison control center. The center can provide you with the best advice for your current circumstance and sting severity. To contact the poison control center in the United States, dial 800-222-1222.

It is essential to seek prompt medical care in the case of a scorpion sting. Though scorpion stings are painful but rarely fatal, young children and older adults are at risk of serious complications. Healthy adults usually don't need treatment for stings except for pain relief. Most scorpion stings don't need medical treatment and can be managed at home.

Home remedies:

  • Clean the wound with mild soap and water.
  • Apply a cool compress to the affected area every 10 minutes to help reduce pain.
  • If possible, keep the affected area (especially limbs) in the raised position, which can often be accomplished with the help of pillows or soft cushions. The affected part should also be kept immobile as much as possible.
  • In case of any allergic symptoms, take an oral antihistamine and apply hydrocortisone cream on the affected area.
  • Stay calm, drink plenty of fluids and allow your body to recover.
  • However, don't consume food or liquids if you have difficulty swallowing.
  • Take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever as needed, such as Motrin IB and Children’s Motrin (ibuprofen) and others to help ease discomfort.

However, if symptoms are severe, you may need hospital care, such as:

  • Doctors may give you drugs intravenously to treat pain.
  • They may give you injections such as adrenalin if you have an anaphylactic reaction to the scorpion poison.
  • They may also give you local anesthesia, acetaminophen or opioid medicines in case of unbearable pain.
  • They may give scorpion antivenom to children to prevent the development of symptoms, which they may also give to adults with severe symptoms.

What are the severe signs and symptoms of a scorpion sting?

Scorpion stings are painful and usually accompanied by swelling, tingling or numbness. These symptoms can be managed at home. However, there are a few common symptoms that are considered severe and may require medical attention, including:

  • Severe pain associated with a change in color at the site of the sting
  • Numbness around the mouth and in the limbs
  • Increased salivation or drooling
  • Increase in or profuse sweating
  • Severe pain in the abdomen associated with vomiting and diarrhea
  • Increased swelling around the sting region that did not subside with home therapies, leading to necrosis (possible death of the tissues)
  • Priapism (painful enlargement of the genitals), especially in children after a scorpion sting
  • Increased heart rate and fluctuation in blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which may require ventilator support as soon as possible

Most of the stings occur on the hands and feet. These body part’s thicker skin makes it harder for the venom to go too deep. Thus, these areas have a lower poisoning risk.

Can a scorpion sting cause death?

Fatality from a scorpion sting is usually related to the following causes:

  • Children, the elderly and people allergic to the venom are the most threatened by a scorpion sting, which spreads the venom more easily in children’s blood.
  • Allergic people might develop a lethal or serious allergic reaction to the sting where the sting site may determine the severity of the reaction.
  • People whose immune systems are weak or compromised may also need immediate medical attention after a scorpion sting. People with heart or respiratory problems are also at a high risk of death.
  • There are over 1,500 species of scorpions, with only 50 species considered dangerously poisonous for humans, and only a few of these have proven to be fatal. The bark scorpion, found in the United States, is the only scorpion species that may have fatal venom.

For most people, although a scorpion’s sting rarely kills, it can cause a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening and may lead to death. Symptoms of this condition are similar to those of a bee sting, which include:

If you or your loved one begins to experience such symptoms after a sting, call an ambulance or head to the hospital immediately.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/18/2021
References
How Do You Handle a Scorpion Sting? https://www.webmd.com/allergies/scorpion-stings

Antidote Relieves Scorpion Stings: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/antidote-relieves-scorpion-stings

Scorpion Sting: https://www.sparrow.org/departments-conditions/conditions/scorpion-sting