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Treatment for Scorpion Stings

written by: Margo • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 11/24/2009

Of over 90 varieties of scorpions in the US, only the black scorpion's venom is potentially deadly. Learn about the treatment for scorpion stings in this guide.

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    Black scorpion stings are typically only dangerous for the very young and the very old, whose systems are less able to handle the scorpion venom. Scorpions prefer dark, cool areas, such as under a rock or inside a rotting log. They may also make a home under garbage cans, in crevices near and inside a home. The most common symptoms of a scorpion sting is pain. In young children or older adults, symptoms might include muscle spasms or weakness, drooling, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, and (in children) intense crying.

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    Home Treatments

    The treatment for scorpion stings normally can be done at home. Wash the area well, and then apply ice to reduce the pain and to prevent the venom from spreading quickly. Staying still, and remaining calm, can also slow down the spread of the venom. Avoid food or beverages, as stings can sometimes cause swelling in the throat, potentially making it difficult to swallow. Cortisone or an antibiotic cream can be applied to the sting site as well. Don't take narcotic-based pain medications, as they can slow down breathing, potentially causing problems in combination with the effects of the scorpion sting.

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    Seeking Professional Help

    If the person who has been stung, experience any serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, dizziness or weakness, call for medical help or drive to the nearest hospital, if it isn’t far. Try to keep the victim still, to prevent spreading the venom through his or her body. Don't cut along the top of the sting site; it won't drain the poison, but it will invite an infection.

    Anti-venom will be given at the hospital to reverse the affects of the venom. Other medications, such as insulin, may be given to help reduce the systemic affects of the scorpion sting. Most serious reactions will require at least 24 hours spent in the hospital for observation.

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    Treatment for Allergic Reactions

    In some cases, the medical problems stemming from a scorpion sting doesn't come from the venom, but from an allergic reaction to the venom. If you have been stung by a scorpion, and experience shortness of breath, significant swelling, difficulty swallowing, or if you notice an outbreak of hives, seek immediate medical attention. Epinephrine, or a similar medicine, will be given to stop the reaction. After the first time, you will probably be given an Epi-pen (a small syringe with a single dose of epinephrine) in case you are stung again.

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    Prevention

    Preventing scorpion stings is a better option than having to seek treatment for scorpion stings. Always shake out clothes and bedding before use, keep yards free from debris and anything a scorpion might hide under, and never walk barefoot, especially through the desert at night. If you have to move anything that may be infested with scorpions, wear leather gloves and boots to protect yourself, and proceed with caution. Although most scorpion stings aren't dangerous, they are painful, and it is better to avoid the stings altogether.

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    Resources

    Scorpion Stings, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/scorpion-stings/DS01113 Accessed November 2009.

    Scorpion Sting Treatment from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/wilderness_scorpion_sting/article_em.htm Accessed November 2009.