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What To Do After A Striped Bark Scorpion Sting

Striped Bark Scorpion Sting

Ouch! Wondering why you felt that tingling sensation that woke you up at night? Was it a spider, or could it have been a scorpion? Some victims of scorpion bites report experiencing a feeling similar to stepping on a nail. Others describe a numbness and burning. Throbbing, waves of pain and swelling are also common in individuals who are unlucky enough to have been stung by a scorpion.

Wondering if it was really a scorpion that caused your discomfort? Or did you see the scorpion nearby, but just are not sure what to do now? Either way, keep reading to learn more about scorpions, whether they are poisonous, why they sting what you should do if you have been stung by one.

Are Scorpions Poisonous?

You might think that scorpions are insects, but they are actually more closely related to a spider. Like spiders, scorpions have eight legs, but unlike spiders, scorpions have a pair of pinchers that help them catch and hold prey, as well as a stinger on their tails that delivers a dose of venom to their unfortunate victim.

Scorpions are nocturnal creatures that hide during the hot summer days, as the heat in most of the southern states is too much for them. These creatures find crevices in logs or wooden structures, hide under rocks or locate other dark, cool places to hang out during the daytime and then come out at night to hunt.

The type of scorpion that people need to watch out for is Centruroides vittatus, also known as the striped bark scorpion, which secretes a neurotoxic venom which can cause substantial discomfort in humans. This is a yellow or tan scorpion with dark stripes on its back that can be found in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Missouri and Tennessee. These scorpions are about two and a half inches long and are typically found under rocks, debris, and wood piles. Because they like to hang out in dark crevices during the day, they often live in attics, sheds and outbuildings and other out-of-the-way places.

As painful as the stings from these creatures can be, only 25 to 30 of the estimated 1,500 known scorpion species produce a venom powerful enough to kill a human. The only type of scorpion linked to a fatality inside of the United States is the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides exilicauda), a relative of the striped bark scorpion that lives in the Sonoran Desert. Mexico is home to several dangerous scorpion species whose stings claim the lives of about 800 people each year.

Why Do Scorpions Sting?

Scorpions produce venom that allows them to kill their prey, as well as serve as a form of self-defense. When a scorpion stings, this venom is transmitted through a barb in its tail that acts similar to a hypodermic needle. This venom paralyzes or kills the scorpion’s prey, and can be quite painful even to larger animals.

Believe it or not, most scorpions aren’t aggressive towards people and larger animals and will sting only when they are disturbed or threatened. When they encounter an animal they consider as a possible threat, including unexpecting humans, dogs, cats and other animals, the sting is a deterrent that can protect it from being eaten.

What A Scorpion Bite Feels Like

The venom of a scorpion contains a variety of different chemicals, including both neurotoxins and enzymes that penetrate the skin and other tissues.

Most people who are stung by a scorpion will feel a sharp, burning pain, not unlike a bee or wasp sting. Some victims compare the sensation to an electric shock. The initial sting can be quite painful, but for most people, the discomfort will subside within an hour.

After the sting, there may be burning or numbness at the location of the tail strike. Some people may experience numbness beyond the sting site, seizures, difficulty breathing, blurred vision or other severe symptoms. If any of these symptoms occur, you should get immediate medical attention as these signs may indicate that your body is undergoing anaphylactic shock.

A spider bite and a scorpion bite can feel very similar. The symptoms of a bark scorpion bite are typically more severe and can be accompanied by a systemic allergic reaction.

How To Treat A Scorpion Sting

The only scorpion that most people will encounter in and around their home is the striped bark scorpion. For these scorpion stings, there are a few things you can do to help relieve the pain:

  • Wash the area around the sting with soap and water.
  • Remove all jewelry from the sting site, in case there is swelling.
  • Apply an ice pack or cool, wet cloths to relieve some of the burning pain.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication or antihistamines as necessary. Avoid ibuprofen and aspirin, as these medicines can help venom spread within the body more quickly.

Counter to what you might have heard, do not try to suck out the venom or cut into the wound. Both of these steps will increase your chance of infection and will not improve your outcome.

If you see what stung you, try to remember what it looked like or take a photo, so that you can relay this information to a medical professional, if needed. In most cases, the pain will subside quickly, and no further medical attention will be necessary. Children, the elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems are the most at risk for an adverse reaction.

If the pain does not go away within a few hours, if the sting site swells up considerably or if there are more serious symptoms, you may be having an allergic reaction that needs immediate medical attention.

ABC Can Protect You From Scorpion Stings

If you begin to see scorpions on your property, you may be wondering what attracts them to your home. The experienced pest control professionals at ABC can inspect your property and provide you with recommendations on how to protect you and your family from painful stings. With ABC’s help, your property will be less attractive to scorpions and other common household pests.

Les Stobart

Les joined ABC in 2008 as the Director of Marketing, overseeing marketing, advertising, and communications for ABC’s branches. Les started the Lean Line, Online Chat departments, and manages corporate recruiting. He has a Bachelor of Science in Communications & Advertising from Lamart University. He has been part of the Texas Banking Association, a Financial Literacy Volunteer Teacher, ABC Kite Fest Board of Directors, a Town & Country Youth Soccer Coach, and a Neighborhood Sports flag football coach.

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