Scorpion stings can be dangerous and potentially fatal especially in pets, children, and the elderly. Scorpion venom is a poisonous neurotoxin designed to paralyze victims and can cause a variety of symptoms in humans.
The symptoms of a scorpion sting include instantaneous pain, redness, numbness or tingling (paresthesia), burning sensations, and potential swelling at the site of the sting. These are usually local reactions that do not spread beyond the stinging site. Here is a list of the most common and mild symptoms of a scorpion sting:
- Mild Symptoms
- Painful burning sensations
- Mild Redness (scorpion sting looks like a pimple)
- Lymphangitis (swelling of the lymph nodes)
- Increased production of saliva
Symptoms will also vary depending on body weight (the venom is more concentrated in lighter victims). Unfortunately, not all of the symptoms are immediately evident. This depends largely on the type of scorpion you were stung by and could potentiate life threatening circumstances. The Bark Scorpion's sting, for example, causes neurological malfunctions in its victim, affecting the autonomic and central nervous systems, where symptoms are gravely pronounced. Fatal reactions will typically occur within a 24 hour period. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Fatal Symptoms
- Tachycardia (abnormally high heart beat, over 100 BPM) or bradycardia (less than 50 BPM)
- Hypertension (increased blood pressure, 140/99 mm Hg)
- Hyperthermia (extremely high body temperature, thermoregulatory failure)
- Abnormal or involuntary eye movements
- Blurred Vision, Dizziness, Involuntary tear production (lacrimation)
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing, tongue twitching
- Loss of bowel or urinary control
- Delirium or abnormal behavior
- Piloerection (goose bumps or hair standing up)
- Dilated Pupils
Children will typically have the same symptoms as adults, but because of their weight, the symptoms are usually more pronounced. Babies may engage in inconsolable crying and whining, involuntary muscle spasms, abnormal behavior and facial expressions. It is easy to mistake the child or baby’s behavior as a seizure or allergic reaction – the difference is, however, that the victim is conscious.
A scorpion sting in the elderly can also be very dangerous. The elderly are at risk of having a stroke due to increased heart rate and blood pressure and medical emergency specialists should be contacted in the appropriate circumstances. Small animals are especially at risk due to their size and weight; consult a veterinarian if your cat or dog has been stung by a scorpion. Most victims are stung by a scorpion while camping or outside of their home so it is important to understand the symptoms and effects.
Assuming you were bit by your run of the mill scorpion, there are a couple of things you can do for a scorpion bite or scorpion sting treatment:
- Scorpion Sting Treatment
- Try not panic. Anxiety increases blood pressure, which can cause the venom to spread quicker.
- Apply a cold compress to ease pain and bandage the lesion if necessary.
- Toothpaste and baking soda can be used to soothe the burning sensations.
- Avoid alcohol or other blood thinners.
- Drink lots of water to flush and dilute the venom.
The symptoms should disappear over the course of a few hours. Call 911 or seek medical attention immediately if symptoms persist.
Bark scorpions are one of the most dangerous scorpions in the United States and their stings are potentially fatal. They are common to the southwest portions of the United States and like most scorpions, will only attack if provoked. If you are stung by a scorpion, identification is crucial so it is important to catch the scorpion if possible. The appropriate measures can be taken depending on the species and medical condition of the victim.