Poisoning due to a sting of a scorpion.

Poisonous Ingredient 

  • scorpion venom

Where Found 

  • scorpions  
  • related species

Most varieties of North American scorpions are nonpoisonous. The poisonous ones in the U.S. live mainly in the southwestern deserts.

mild case:

  • body as a whole       o mild tingling or burning at site of sting

severe case:

  • body as a whole       o muscular spasms       o Convulsions       o Urinary Incontinence       o urine output, decreased       o excessive salivation (drooling)       o random movements of head, eye, and/or neck  
  • respiratory       o Rapid breathing       o difficulty breathing       o stop breathing  
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o tongue feels thicker       o spasm of the larynx (voice box)       o double vision  
  • gastrointestinal       o abdominal cramps       o Inflammation of the pancreas       o Fecal Incontinence  
  • heart and blood vessels       o High blood pressure       o increased or decreased heart rate       o irregular heartbeat  
  • nervous system       o restlessness       o tense       o seizures       o paralysis

Home Treatment 
Most stings from North American scorpions do not require treatment. Children 6 years and younger are more susceptible to the toxic effects of the poisonous varieties.

Place ice (wrapped in a washcloth or other suitable covering) on the site of the sting for 10 minutes and then off for 10 minutes. Repeat this process. Immobilize the affected limb. If patient has circulatory problems, decrease the time to prevent possible damage to the skin.

Keep the patient still.

Before Calling Emergency 
Determine the following information:

  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • identification of the insect if possible  
  • the time stung

Poison Control, or a local emergency number 
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses.

If possible, bring the scorpion to the emergency room for identification.

What to expect at the emergency room 
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • Give an antiserum.  
  • Open and maintain the airway if needed.  
  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis) 
Death rarely occurs in patients older than 6 years. If symptoms rapidly become worse within the first 2 to 4 hours after the sting, a poor outcome is indicated. Symptoms usually last 24 to 48 hours. Some deaths have occurred as late as 4 days after the sting.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.