Scorpion Stings: Painful, But Not Usually Lethal

Scorpion Stinger

Aside from tarantulas, no other bug instills as much fear as the sting of a scorpion. Some of this fear is justified, of course, since it does inject venom. However, this venom is generally not seriously harmful to humans because only a small amount is delivered and the worst of the pain is localized around the area stung.

After being stung, apply a heat or cold pack to the area to relieve some of the pain. No need to attempt to suck out venom or induce bleeding by cutting around the area. And don't use a tourniquet as it will not help and could possible cause further harm if used improperly. If you happen to have a painkiller, feel free to take it. If the scorpion sting results in an allergic reaction, take an antihistamine.

Typical stings result in the following reactions in people:

  • Instantaneous pain at the site of sting very similar to that of a wasp.
  • The pain may radiate over the body after several minutes have elapsed.
  • Pain may be felt in joints, armpits, and groin.
  • More serious reactions include numbness in the face, mouth, or throat; muscle twitches; sweating; nausea; vomiting; fever; and restlessness. These are normal and not life threating. In addition, they should pass within 1 to 3 hours.

The good news is that adults have at least 12 hours to get to a hospital if the symptoms seem severe enough before there being an even remote chance of death. Note that small children, if stung, should seek professional medical help as soon as possible.

When in an area where scorpions live, a few precautionary measures can prevent stings. During the day, scorpions like to hide under rocks. They may also seek shelter in towels, clothes, and shoes so take a moment to shake these things before using them.

References:
The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook - Travel by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht

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