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Scorpion Stings

Conditions Basics

What is a scorpion?

Scorpions, found in southwestern Canada and throughout the United States, are up to 7.5 cm (3 in.) 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 colour.
  • 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. You can call PADIS, the Poison and Drug Information Service or your Primary Care Physician.

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.
  • Don't scratch or rub the skin around the area.

Credits

Adaptation Date: 2/24/2022

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.