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Wilderness: Scorpion Sting (cont.)

Scorpion Sting Treatment

In most scorpion stings of adults, treatment is simply supportive and can be done at home.

  • Wash the sting with soap and water and remove all jewelry because swelling of tissue may impede the circulation if it not allowed to expand (for example, a sting on a finger that has a ring surrounding it).
  • Apply cool compresses, usually 10 minutes on and ten minutes off of the site of the sting.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) 1-2 tablets every 4 hours may be given to relieve pain (usually not to exceed 3g per 24 hours). Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) because they may contribute to other problems.
  • Antibiotics are not helpful unless the sting area become secondarily infected.
  • Do not cut into the wound or apply suction.
  • If a child is 5 years or younger is stung, seek evaluation by a medical caregiver.
  • If symptoms increase in severity, go to an Emergency Department.
  • Call Poison Control at 1 800 222 1222 if you are unsure about what to do if you or a child is stung.

When to Seek Medical Care for a Scorpion Sting

Most infants, small children and the elderly, especially if they are stung by a bark scorpion which inhabits large areas in Arizona and New Mexico, should be seen quickly by a doctor as some of the severe reactions occur in these populations. However, anyone who experiences the severe symptoms listed above after a scorpion sting needs immediate treatment in an emergency department.

What to do:

  • Call 911 and Poison Control (1-800-222-1222)
  • Continuously apply ice to the sting area.
  • If there is no danger to other people, carefully collecting a dead or injured scorpion into a sealed container to show to the physician may be helpful.
  • Antivenom therapy is available for the Centruroides species (bark scorpion), the antivenom (Anascorp) has been approved for use against the bark scorpion sting in 2011 by the FDA. It is made by immunizing horses with the venom and then the antivenom (immunoglobulin) is harvested from horse blood. The antivenom may stop all symptoms within about 4 hours after administration. Other researchers are developing antivenom to other species of scorpions.
  • All but the mildest of symptoms require hospital admission for 24 hours of observation, especially for children.
  • Consult a doctor about treatment with available medications if antivenom is not available.

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