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  • Select from over 100 symptoms to read more about managing your child's illness.

    Is Your Child Sick? TM


    Scorpion Sting

    Is this your child's symptom?

    • Sting from a scorpion
    • Onset of local pain and tingling after a scorpion is seen in the area
    • The main symptoms are pain, tingling and numbness at the sting site

    Scorpions

    • Scorpions look like tiny lobsters in front. In back, they have a long tail with a stinger at the end. It curls up and over their bodies. They have 8 legs, like spiders.
    • Venom: The stinger has venom. The venom causes pain and other symptoms when it is shot into the skin.
    • Size: average size is 3 inches (7.5 cm). Range in size from 1 - 7 inches (2.5 to 18 cm).
    • Scorpions are most active at night. They like dark and moist places.
    • There are about 40 types of scorpions in the US.
    • All scorpions can sting, causing pain, tingling, and numbness at the sting site. Note: Some stings do not inject venom.
    • The only US scorpion that can cause serious symptoms is the bark scorpion. See below.
    • Children and older adults are more likely to have severe symptoms. People with chronic medical problems are also at higher risk.

    Bark Scorpion

    • The only US scorpion that can cause serious symptoms is the bark scorpion.
    • Color: bark scorpions are yellow-brown (tan) or orange in color.
    • Size: 2-3 inches long (5-7.5 cm)
    • They are found mostly in Arizona. Also can be found in New Mexico, Nevada, California, and Texas. They also live in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
    • Deaths in the US from a scorpion sting are rare.
    • Note: Most people cannot tell a bark scorpion from a harmless scorpion. Catching or saving the scorpion to show your doctor is not helpful. Treatment is based on symptoms. Just kill the intruder.

    Types of Reactions for Bark Scorpion Stings

    • About 85% cause only local symptoms at the sting site.
    • About 10% cause painful shock waves in the same arm or leg as the sting.
    • Less than 5% cause any serious symptoms.

    Mild Symptoms of a Scorpion Sting

    • All scorpion stings cause pain, tingling, and numbness at the sting site.
    • Pain starts right away. The pain can be severe for the first 2 hours. Symptoms around the site start to go away over the next 24 hours.
    • There is often no swelling or redness of the sting.
    • About 10% of stings also cause waves of tingling. The tingling travels up the stung arm or leg. It feels like an electric shock.
    • Most scorpion stings do not need to be seen.

    Serious Symptoms of a Scorpion Sting

    Most people will not get any serious symptoms. If they do occur, they will start in the first 2-3 hours after the sting. First signs of a serious sting can be muscle twitching or rapid eye movements. Pain, tingling and numbness can also spread to all the arms and legs. Other serious symptoms include:

    • Trouble swallowing
    • Trouble breathing
    • Blurry eyesight
    • Roving or jerky eye movements
    • Slurred speech
    • Muscle twitching

    Expert Reviewers:

    • Anne-Michelle Ruha, MD, and Min Kang, MD, pediatric toxicologists

    When to Call for Scorpion Sting

    When to Call for Scorpion Sting

    Call 911 Now

    • Passed out or too weak to stand
    • Trouble breathing or wheezing
    • Drooling or trouble swallowing
    • Seizure or muscle jerking
    • Hives or swelling all over the body
    • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

    • Spreading redness that started more than 24 hours after the sting
    • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

    Call Doctor During Office Hours

    • Last tetanus shot was more than 10 years ago
    • You have other questions or concerns

    Self Care at Home

    • Minor scorpion sting with symptoms only around the sting
    • Waves of tingling and pain only up the arm or leg with the sting
    • Preventing scorpion stings

    Call 911 Now

    • Passed out or too weak to stand
    • Trouble breathing or wheezing
    • Drooling or trouble swallowing
    • Seizure or muscle jerking
    • Hives or swelling all over the body
    • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

    • Spreading redness that started more than 24 hours after the sting
    • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

    Call Doctor During Office Hours

    • Last tetanus shot was more than 10 years ago
    • You have other questions or concerns

    Self Care at Home

    • Minor scorpion sting with symptoms only around the sting
    • Waves of tingling and pain only up the arm or leg with the sting
    • Preventing scorpion stings

    Care Advice

    Scorpion Sting Treatment

    1. What You Should Know about Scorpion Stings:
      • The main symptoms are pain, tingling and numbness only in the sting area.
      • Symptoms shouldn't be any worse than a bad bee sting.
      • Sometimes, the arm or leg with the sting gets waves of tingling and pain.
      • Here is some care advice that should help.
    2. Clean the Sting Site:
      • Wash the sting site well with soap and water.
    3. Cold Pack for Pain:
      • For pain or swelling, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth.
      • Put it on the sting for 20 minutes.
    4. Pain Medicine:
      • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
      • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
      • Use as needed.
    5. Treatment of Painful Shock Waves up the Arm or Leg:
      • Until they go away, keep using the pain medicine as needed.
      • Also, try to avoid bumping that arm or leg.
    6. What to Expect:
      • Pain at the sting site is usually gone by 24 hours.
      • Shock waves of tingling also gone by 24 hours.
      • Numbness and tingling around the sting may last 2 to 3 days.
    7. Call Your Doctor If:
      • Serious symptoms occur
      • Pain, tingling or numbness start on both sides of the body
      • Sting starts to look infected
      • You think your child needs to be seen
      • Your child becomes worse

    Prevent Scorpion Stings

    1. Prevent Scorpion Stings:
      • Do not walk barefoot in the desert, especially at night. Scorpions are most active at night.
      • Check your shoes before you put them on (shake them).
      • Shake out clothes, towels, bedding, and sleeping bags before using.
      • Roll back your sheets at night, before getting into bed.
    2. Prevent Scorpions Around Your Home:
      • Clear away any piles of wood or debris that are near the house. Scorpions hide there.
      • Weatherstrip your windows and doors.
      • Place the legs of a baby's crib in wide-mouthed glass jars. Scorpions can't climb glass.
      • Hire a pest control expert for repeated problems.
    3. Call Your Doctor If:
      • You have more questions

    And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

    Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

    Copyright 2000-2018. Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

    Scorpion

    This image shows the frontal view of the bark scorpion of Arizona.