Most scorpion stings in the United States cause only minor signs and symptoms, such as pain and warmth at the sting site. The venom of the bark scorpion, native to Arizona, New Mexico and the California side of the Colorado River, is more toxic and can be life-threatening, particularly in children.
Mild signs and symptoms might include:
- Pain, which can be intense
- Numbness and tingling in the area around the sting
- Slight swelling in the area around the sting
More-severe signs and symptoms might include:
- Muscle twitching or thrashing
- Unusual head, neck and eye movements
- High blood pressure (hypertension) or low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Accelerated heart rate (tachycardia) or irregular heart beat (arrhythmia)
- Restlessness or excitability or inconsolable crying (in children)
When to see a doctor
It's always best to be safe. If you or your child is stung, follow these guidelines:
Jan. 23, 2014
- If you're concerned about a scorpion sting — even if your reaction is minor — first call your local poison control center for advice. To reach a poison control center in the U.S., call Poison Help at 800-222-1222.
- Get immediate medical care for any child stung by a scorpion.
- If you've been stung, get prompt care if you begin to experience widespread symptoms.
- Seek medical attention right away if you or your child is stung while traveling in another country.
- LoVecchio F. Scorpion stings in the United States and Mexico. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 4, 2013.
- Bawaskar HS, et al. Scorpion sting update. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India. 2012;60:46.
- Viswanathan S, et al. Scorpion sting nephropathy. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation Plus. 2011;4:376.
- Antidote relieves scorpion stings. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm266515.htm. Accessed July 4, 2013.
- What to do in a medical emergency: Bites and stings. American College of Emergency Physicians Foundation. http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/EmergencyManual/WhatToDoInMedicalEmergency/Default.aspx?id=210#spider_bites_and_scorpion_stings. Accessed July 4, 2013.