This article describes the effects of a scorpion sting.
- Scorpion venom
- Related species
Most varieties of North American scorpions are nonpoisonous. The poisonous ones in the U.S. live mainly in the southwestern deserts.
In mild cases, the only symptom may be a mild tingling or burning at site of sting.
In severe cases, symptoms may include:
- Eyes and ears
- Double vision
- Difficulty breathing
- No breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Nose, mouth, and throat
- Spasm of the larynx (voice box)
- Thick-feeling tongue
- Heart and blood
- Kidneys and bladder
- Muscles and joints
- Nervous system
- Random movements of head, eye, or neck
- Stomach and intestinal tract
- Abdominal cramps
- Fecal incontinence
Most stings from North American scorpions do not require treatment. Children 6 years and younger are more like to have harmful effects from poisonous types.
Keep the patient and area of the sting still. Place ice (wrapped in a washcloth or other suitable covering) on the site of the sting for 10 minutes and then off for 10 minutes. Repeat this process. If patient has circulatory problems, reduce the time the ice is on the skin to prevent possible damage.
Determine the following information:
- The patient's age, weight, and condition
- Exact type of insect, if possible
- The time stung
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the insect with you to the hospital, if possible.
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The patient may receive:
- An antiserum (only in the most severe cases)
- Breathing assistance, if needed
Death rarely occurs in patients older than 6 years. If symptoms rapidly become worse within the first 2 - 4 hours after the sting, a poor outcome is more likely. Symptoms usually last 24 - 48 hours. Some deaths have occurred as late as 4 days after the sting.
Reviewed By: Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.