- Sting from a scorpion
- Onset of local pain and tingling after a scorpion is seen in the area
- The main symptoms are pain, tingling and numbness at the sting site
- Scorpions look like tiny lobsters in front. In back, they have a long tail with a stinger at the end. It curls up and over their bodies. They have 8 legs, like spiders.
- Venom: the stinger has venom. The venom causes pain and other symptoms when it is shot into the skin.
- Size: average size is 3 inches (7.5 cm). Range in size from 1 - 7 inches (2.5 to 18 cm).
- Scorpions are most active at night. They like dark and moist places.
- There are about 40 types of scorpions in the US.
- All scorpions can sting, causing pain, tingling, and numbness at the sting site. Note: Some stings do not inject venom.
- The only US scorpion that can cause serious symptoms is the bark scorpion. See below.
- Children and older adults are more likely to have severe symptoms. People with chronic medical problems are also at higher risk.
- The only US scorpion that can cause serious symptoms is the bark scorpion.
- Color: bark scorpions are yellow-brown (tan) or orange in color.
- Size: 2-3 inches long (5-7.5 cm)
- They are found mostly in Arizona. Also can be found in New Mexico, Nevada, California, and Texas. They also live in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
- Deaths in the US from a scorpion sting are rare.
- Note: most people cannot tell a bark scorpion from a harmless scorpion. Catching or saving the scorpion to show your doctor is not helpful. Treatment is based on symptoms. Just kill the intruder.
Types of Reactions for Bark Scorpion Stings
- About 85% cause only local symptoms at the sting site.
- About 10% cause painful shock waves in the same arm or leg as the sting.
- Less than 5% cause any serious symptoms.
Mild Symptoms of a Scorpion Sting
- All scorpion stings cause pain, tingling, and numbness at the sting site.
- Pain starts right away. The pain can be severe for the first 2 hours. Symptoms around the site start to go away over the next 24 hours.
- There is often no swelling or redness of the sting.
- About 10% of stings also cause waves of tingling. The tingling travels up the stung arm or leg. It feels like an electric shock.
- Most scorpion stings do not need to be seen.
Serious Symptoms of a Scorpion Sting
Most people will not get any serious symptoms. If they do occur, they will start in the first 2-3 hours after the sting. First signs of a serious sting can be muscle twitching or rapid eye movements. Pain, tingling and numbness can also spread to all the arms and legs. Other serious symptoms include:
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- Blurry eyesight
- Roving or jerky eye movements
- Slurred speech
- Muscle twitching
- Anne-Michelle Ruha, MD, and Min Kang, MD, pediatric toxicologists