Scorpion Stings

Madagascar scorpion on arm

Madagascar Scorpion

Scorpion Stings Advice and Information

Scorpions are surrounded by much myth and are generally considered more dangerous animals than they usually are.
They are night creatures from the spider family, and hunt – and are hunted by – insects, lizards, mice and so on. The largest is the South African Scorpion which can reach over 8 inches long, but most are only a couple of inches.

There are around 1, 200 known Scorpion species in the world, but only around twenty are considered to be life threatening to humans. Even then most deaths from stings that do occur are in babies and the elderly or result from hypersensitivity to the venom through anaphylactic shock.
People who live around scorpions usually treat their stings as we would treat a wasp sting. i. e. painful but not life-threatening.

Statistics for scorpion stings and resulting deaths are difficult to come by for the same reason that many of these statistics are not readily available – third world data travels really slowly, if at all.

The method of injecting the venom, unlike snake bites which use teeth and are therefore bites, is through a barbed stinger on the end of the beast’s tail. The claws do little except to give a nip from some species in much the same way as a crab nips people.

They are unable to sting what they are standing on if quite a flat surface, so you’re reasonably safe if one has crawled onto your arm or leg. . , until you try to pick it up!

Avoiding scorpion stings

Clothing – shake it out before putting it on, especially in the morning, and if you’re really lucky a spider will fall out as well.
Bedding – these are active night-time animals so take a peek before jumping in with an dangerous bedfellow.
Water – scorpions like water especially in more arid climates, so keep an eye out near the watering holes.
Footwear – shake boots out too, you wouldn’t want to sleepily stick your foot in and find a 4 inch scorpion dozing in there, would you?

Sting Symptoms

Minor attack, local effect: Intense pain and swelling at the sting site, light muscle spasms, numbness, and tingling. The pain usually subsides within one hour and all symptoms disappear within 24 hours with no tissue damage.

Moderate attack, whole body effect: Intense pain including armpits and groin area. Breathing difficulties, agitation, high temperature, swelling and numbness of face and throat.

Severe attack, body and central nervous system effect: Frothing at the mouth, nausea, vomiting, fever, convulsions.
Death, though rare, would be the result of heart or respiratory failure several hours after the sting occurred. In other words there’s plenty of time to get to a hospital if the victim’s condition deteriorates.

Sting Treatment

• try to keep calm and relax. The symptoms will be made worse by excitement and anxiety. You’re chances of dying are almost zero. It’s really not too bad (been there, done that! )
• clean the site with soap and water and put on an ice-pack/cold compress (frozen peas wrapped in a kitchen towel will do).
• lift the limb to heart level.
• take a pain killer, or even an antihistamine pill.

Hospital? Most victims who travel to hospital recover before they see a doctor, and even if they don’t there is some disagreement among the medical fraternity about the use, efficacy and even safety of antivenoms.