A Guide to Scorpion Stings
If you live in the southwestern United States, you’ve probably seen a scorpion before. If you’re traveling or moving to an area where scorpions are common, you’ll want to know more about them. No matter your experience, you should learn more about scorpions and what happens if one stings you.
With some knowledge about scorpions and their stings, you can avoid the pain and other severe symptoms that may come along with them. Read on to learn about scorpions, symptoms of getting stung, scorpion sting treatments and more.
How Scorpions Sting
Unlike other pests that bite, a scorpion stings using a stinger on its tail that releases venom into its target. The venom contains a mix of toxins. These toxins, known as neurotoxins, affect the nervous system, which explains many of the symptoms we’ll describe in a bit.
Generally, scorpions will only sting when provoked or attacked, so the best way to prevent a scorpion sting is to avoid interaction. It isn’t always possible to prevent a sting, though. Sometimes, you may not notice a scorpion is near enough to sting you, since some, like the bark scorpion, are only about two inches long. Whether or not you notice a scorpion, you may get stung. In that case, you’ll want to know how to identify the sting.
What Does a Scorpion Sting Look and Feel Like?
A scorpion sting often comes with immediate symptoms, so you will know very soon after you have been stung. Your symptoms can vary depending on your health, age, the type of scorpion that stung you and how many times it has stung you, but in general, you could experience these common symptoms.
- Pain: Unsurprisingly, a scorpion sting hurts. Depending on the type of scorpion and your sensitivity, you may experience varying levels of pain.
- Numbness: Like pain, the numbness can range. You may also experience tingling instead or a combination. These symptoms demonstrate how a scorpion’s venom is a neurotoxin that affects your nerves.
- Swelling: You might be surprised to know swelling is often slight after a scorpion sting. Unless you are allergic or experience swelling easily, the area around your sting may not become too inflamed.
- Warmth: Many bites, stings and injuries will feel warm, and scorpion stings are no exception. You could also feel heat at the moment you get stung, as some individuals who have experienced a sting describe it as being poked by a hot needle.
The area of the sting will most likely appear red and slightly raised, as other bites and stings typically do. Since a scorpion pierces the skin with its stinger, you could also see a small open wound depending on the scorpion’s stinger size.
Along with those common and minor symptoms, it is possible to experience more serious reactions to a scorpion sting. Severe symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- High blood pressure
- Strange eye, neck and head movement
- Increased heart rate
- Convulsions or muscle twitching
- Blurry vision
These and other symptoms can occur if the venom has spread throughout your system or if you are stung by a more toxic scorpion, like the bark scorpion. In bark scorpion sting pictures, you may notice that the area of the sting is rarely swollen. Bark scorpion stings instead show themselves through some of the severe symptoms, again depending on your age, health and other factors. Those factors also influence how long a scorpion sting lasts.
How Long Do Scorpion Stings Last?
The pain and visual symptoms around the sting can last through any range of time depending on what type of scorpion stung you, how many times it stung you, your age and your health. Reactions around the sting can last between seven to 10 days based on your situation. People often report that symptoms like numbness or tingling last two to three days, but, again, that depends on your circumstances. A medical professional or poison control center can advise you on how long your symptoms may last after knowing your unique condition.
The medical treatment you seek will also impact how long you experience symptoms, along with how severe your symptoms were in the first place. Antivenom, which health professionals only administer to individuals with particularly serious cases, helps severe symptoms subside more quickly. If you are not eligible for antivenom treatment, you should know your other treatment options.
How to Treat a Scorpion Sting
Once you know how to recognize the potential symptoms, you’ll want to know how to treat a scorpion sting. Fortunately, most types of stings do not require professional medical attention. If you are not experiencing severe symptoms, you can try at-home scorpion sting treatments that Mayo Clinic recommends.
Because a scorpion sting is an open wound, you should clean it with mild soap and water before anything else. You can then apply a cool compress to the area to reduce pain, swelling and warmth.
If you’re having trouble swallowing, try to avoid eating and drinking, and be sure to contact a medical professional. For minor pain, the Mayo Clinic recommends taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen.
Mayo Clinic also states that you can use the above home remedies as the only treatment for specific scorpion stings if you are a healthy adult. For children and other individuals susceptible to severe reactions, you can use the home remedies before visiting a medical professional for further treatment, but seek medical treatment quickly. If you have any concerns about a sting, contact or visit a medical professional or contact your local poison control center for information.
If you notice the scorpion that stung you or someone else, remember what it looks like, as that can help you or a medical professional identify the type of scorpion. Take a photo or trap it if it is safe to do so. However, never put yourself in a position where you have to handle the scorpion with bare hands, as it could sting again.
Common Types of Scorpions That Sting
While there are over a thousand species of scorpion out there, Arizona and other areas in the southwestern United States are home to dozens. Fortunately, not all of these species have toxic venom. Some do, however, so it is essential to know some common types of scorpions that sting if you live in or are traveling to Arizona. Here are four scorpions you may see.
- The bark scorpion: This species is the most common one found in Arizona homes. Since bark scorpion stings are more toxic than other varieties, you’ll want to know how to identify the species. Bark scorpions are a tan, yellow or orange color and have slender tails. They are small and nocturnal, and whenever you find one, there are usually more nearby.
- The giant hairy scorpion: Despite its large size, the giant hairy scorpion has fairly weak venom. They are the largest scorpion in the United States, at over four inches long, and they live either under surface objects such as rocks or logs or burrowed underground.
- The stripe-tailed scorpion: Like the giant hairy scorpion, the stripe-tailed scorpion does not have potent venom. This species is Arizona’s most common type of scorpion, and you can usually find it under rocks.
- The yellow ground scorpion: As the name implies, this species has a yellow appearance. Its tail segments are a bit wider than that of a bark scorpion, making it somewhat distinguishable from the bark scorpion. It also has a less potent sting.
If you are concerned about the more toxic bark scorpion, familiarize yourself with pictures of the species. You’ll have a better chance at distinguishing it from the less toxic yellow ground scorpion.
Can You Die From a Scorpion Sting?
A majority of scorpion stings are not life-threatening, but according to Mayo Clinic, about 30 of the approximate 1,500 species of scorpions can have fatal venom. Fortunately, access to proper medical care lessens the fatality risk of scorpion stings. Health care professionals in the southwestern United States and other areas where scorpions are common are familiar with how to treat a scorpion sting. As long as you can reach a hospital, doctor or clinic, you will be able to handle the symptoms of a scorpion sting without any fatal effects. The effect of scorpion venom and whether or not it is fatal also depends on other risk factors, such as your age and health.
Who Is Most Affected by Scorpion Stings?
Those most at-risk to experience severe symptoms from a scorpion sting include infants, young children and the elderly. Because infants and young children are smaller and may have weaker immune systems, scorpion venom can have a stronger effect on their bodies. That does not mean, however, that adults cannot experience a serious scorpion sting.
If you have a weakened immune system, medical conditions or allergies, you may be at risk for severe symptoms no matter your age. You may also be more likely to have a worsened reaction if a scorpion has stung you in the past.
Regardless of your risk for severe symptoms, your chance of getting stung in the first place depends on your situation. You are at a higher risk for scorpion stings if you live, work, travel or hike where scorpions reside. If you live in or plan to visit the southwestern United States, take precautions and know what to do in case you or a family member get stung. Don’t forget about your pets, either, since they are also susceptible.
Pets and Scorpion Stings
Pets are curious, and if you let yours roam outside or if a scorpion gets in your home, your dog or cat may wind up with a scorpion sting. Unfortunately, you may not always notice if your pet interacts with a scorpion unless you follow them around all day. The best way to know if your cat or dog has a scorpion sting is to recognize the symptoms a pet may experience.
The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center conducted a small study focusing on how scorpion stings affect some dogs and cats. Smaller dogs often experience more severe symptoms than larger ones, which makes sense if you think about how the venom can more quickly affect their bodies. A cat with a scorpion sting may also experience symptoms, including shaking, changing in breathing, strange eye movements and more.
In general, your pets may experience similar symptoms people do after a scorpion sting. If you believe your pet could have gotten stung, watch for signs of:
- Pain, which your pet may show through yelping, crying, limping, licking, rubbing or other ways
- Trouble swallowing or breathing
- Drooling or vomiting
- Other abnormal behaviors
Most pets recover from these symptoms, often within four to eight hours, depending on the animal and the type of scorpion sting. Still, you should take your pet to a veterinarian if you believe they have experienced a scorpion sting.
To avoid pets getting stung by scorpions, watch them whenever they are outside. Cover any gaps under doors that lead outside, and if you notice your pet playing with something inside your home, check that it is not a scorpion. Pets, especially cats, will play with or attempt to kill scorpions, but letting them do so puts them at risk for a sting. With proper care, you can prevent scorpion stings for your pets as well as yourself.
How to Avoid Scorpion Stings
To protect yourself, your family and your pets from stings, you have to think about where scorpions live. If you live in the southwestern United States, you are at risk for scorpion stings. Prevent stings with specific precautions such as the following.
- Avoid having piles of rocks or lumber: Don’t create homes for scorpions around your property. Where do scorpions live? They often burrow under piles of rocks or lumber, but they can hide in other covered areas. If you keep firewood on the premises, do not keep it stacked inside or against your home.
- Maintain your yard: Cut grass short and prune bushes and trees. Scorpions can hide in taller grass or use overhanging branches to access the roof of your home, which may allow them inside.
- Wear closed-toed shoes: Many stories of scorpion stings come from people walking outside barefoot or in flip-flops. Wear sneakers or boots when you’re going outside, even if it’s just for a minute.
- Shake out clothing and other gear: Whether you’re camping or working around your home, shake out items like boots, gardening gloves and camping bedding. Scorpions can hide inside items you don’t use frequently, and will sting you if you try to use those items.
If you do find a scorpion in your camping gear or somewhere in your home, you could try to remove it safely with tongs or other tools, as Mayo Clinic recommends. Do not attempt to pick up and move a scorpion by hand, though, as you put yourself at risk to get stung.
Prevention through extermination is also an excellent way to avoid scorpion stings. If you have noticed scorpions in your home or yard, contact a trusted and professional pest control service to take care of the problem safely.
Eliminate Scorpions With Green Home Pest Control
At Green Home Pest Control, our experienced technicians will work to get the job done right the first time. We will use safe and effective products that won’t harm you, your family or your pets like other toxic pesticides would. If you have a persistent scorpion problem, we will gladly come back and re-service your home or property free of charge!
Contact us today at 480-525-7378 to set up your free quote and inspection. Protect yourself, your family and your pets from experiencing any of the symptoms above with our help.
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