Scorpion Stings

Conditions Basics

What is a scorpion?

Scorpions, found mostly across the southern and western United States, are up to 3 in. (7.6 cm) in length. They have eight legs and a pair of pincers like a crab has. The stinger, which injects venom, is located at the end of a narrow tail that curves around and over the back of the scorpion's body. Although some scorpions are not poisonous, others have venom strong enough to kill a person.

Some scorpions are found in cool, damp places, such as basements, junk piles, and wood piles. Other scorpions are found in desert areas.

What are the symptoms of a scorpion sting?

Symptoms of a scorpion sting may include:

  • Intense immediate pain lasting from minutes to 24 hours.
  • Swelling, itching, and a change in skin color.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Anxiety, drowsiness, and fainting.
  • Increased saliva, tears, and sweat.
  • Numbness of the tongue.
  • Vision problems.
  • Trouble breathing.

How is a scorpion sting treated?

If you have been stung by a scorpion, it's important to talk to a doctor immediately. Medicine (antivenom) may be needed to counteract the effects of the scorpion sting.

Home treatment

  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Try an over-the-counter medicine for itching, redness, swelling, and pain. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • Take an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratadine (Claritin), to help calm the itching or swelling.
    • Put a hydrocortisone 1% cream or calamine lotion on the skin.
  • Don't scratch or rub the skin around the area.

Credits

Current as of: July 1, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine

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This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.