Is this your child's symptom?
- Sting from a scorpion
- Onset of local pain and tingling after a scorpion is seen in the area
- The main symptoms are pain, tingling and numbness at the sting site
- Scorpions look like tiny lobsters in front. In back, they have a long tail with a stinger at the end. It curls up and over their bodies. They have 8 legs, like spiders.
- Venom: The stinger has venom. The venom causes pain and other symptoms when it is shot into the skin.
- Size: average size is 3 inches (7.5 cm). Range in size from 1 - 7 inches (2.5 to 18 cm).
- Scorpions are most active at night. They like dark and moist places.
- There are about 40 types of scorpions in the US.
- All scorpions can sting, causing pain, tingling, and numbness at the sting site. Note: Some stings do not inject venom.
- The only US scorpion that can cause serious symptoms is the bark scorpion. See below.
- Children and older adults are more likely to have severe symptoms. People with chronic medical problems are also at higher risk.
- The only US scorpion that can cause serious symptoms is the bark scorpion.
- Color: bark scorpions are yellow-brown (tan) or orange in color.
- Size: 2-3 inches long (5-7.5 cm)
- They are found mostly in Arizona. Also can be found in New Mexico, Nevada, California, and Texas. They also live in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
- Deaths in the US from a scorpion sting are rare.
- Note: Most people cannot tell a bark scorpion from a harmless scorpion. Catching or saving the scorpion to show your doctor is not helpful. Treatment is based on symptoms. Just kill the intruder.
Types of Reactions for Bark Scorpion Stings
- About 85% cause only local symptoms at the sting site.
- About 10% cause painful shock waves in the same arm or leg as the sting.
- Less than 5% cause any serious symptoms.
Mild Symptoms of a Scorpion Sting
- All scorpion stings cause pain, tingling, and numbness at the sting site.
- Pain starts right away. The pain can be severe for the first 2 hours. Symptoms around the site start to go away over the next 24 hours.
- There is often no swelling or redness of the sting.
- About 10% of stings also cause waves of tingling. The tingling travels up the stung arm or leg. It feels like an electric shock.
- Most scorpion stings do not need to be seen.
Serious Symptoms of a Scorpion Sting
Most people will not get any serious symptoms. If they do occur, they will start in the first 2-3 hours after the sting. First signs of a serious sting can be muscle twitching or rapid eye movements. Pain, tingling and numbness can also spread to all the arms and legs. Other serious symptoms include:
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- Blurry eyesight
- Roving or jerky eye movements
- Slurred speech
- Muscle twitching
- Anne-Michelle Ruha, MD, and Min Kang, MD, pediatric toxicologists
When to Call Us for Scorpion Sting
Call 911 Now
Call Doctor or Seek Care Now
Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours
Contact Doctor During Office Hours
Self Care at Home
Scorpion Sting Treatment
- What You Should Know about Scorpion Stings:
- The main symptoms are pain, tingling and numbness only in the sting area.
- Symptoms shouldn't be any worse than a bad bee sting.
- Sometimes, the arm or leg with the sting gets waves of tingling and pain.
- Here is some care advice that should help.
- Clean the Sting Site:
- Wash the sting site well with soap and water.
- Cold Pack for Pain:
- For pain or swelling, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth.
- Put it on the sting for 20 minutes.
- Pain Medicine:
- To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
- Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
- Use as needed.
- Treatment of Painful Shock Waves up the Arm or Leg:
- Until they go away, keep using the pain medicine as needed.
- Also, try to avoid bumping that arm or leg.
- What to Expect:
- Pain at the sting site is usually gone by 24 hours.
- Shock waves of tingling also gone by 24 hours.
- Numbness and tingling around the sting may last 2 to 3 days.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Serious symptoms occur
- Pain, tingling or numbness start on both sides of the body
- Sting starts to look infected
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Your child becomes worse
Prevent Scorpion Stings
- Prevent Scorpion Stings:
- Do not walk barefoot in the desert, especially at night. Scorpions are most active at night.
- Check your shoes before you put them on (shake them).
- Shake out clothes, towels, bedding, and sleeping bags before using.
- Roll back your sheets at night, before getting into bed.
- Prevent Scorpions Around Your Home:
- Clear away any piles of wood or debris that are near the house. Scorpions hide there.
- Weatherstrip your windows and doors.
- Place the legs of a baby's crib in wide-mouthed glass jars. Scorpions can't climb glass.
- Hire a pest control expert for repeated problems.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- You have more questions
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.