Scorpion stings

General or Other | Emergency Medicine | Scorpion stings (Disease)


Scorpion stings are a cutaneous condition caused by the stinging of scorpions, usually resulting in pain, paresthesia, and variable swelling. The anatomical part of the scorpion that delivers the sting is called a telson. The reaction at the sting site may appear mild. However, infrequently, a person experiencing a serious reaction may develop severe symptoms throughout the body.

Severe symptoms include widespread numbness, difficulty swallowing, a thick tongue, blurred vision, roving eye movements, seizures, salivation, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms constitute a medical emergency. Death may occur.

Causes and Risk factors

Scorpions have eight legs and a pair of crab-like pinchers, giving them a certain fierce look. The venom is carried in a gland on the back of the tail, and when on the attack, a scorpion can flick its stinger over its head with lightning speed. The venom itself contains a complex mix of toxins that affect the nervous system (neurotoxins).

Scorpions are shy, nocturnal creatures that resist stinging unless provoked or attacked. They can control the amount of venom they release - depending on how threatened they feel - so some stings may be almost entirely venomless.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Primary assessment of airway, breathing, and circulation takes precedence. Few studies have evaluated the utility of most first aid. The utility of negative pressure extraction devices has not been evaluated for scorpion stings. Perform endotracheal intubation and vascular access as needed. The antivenom significantly decreases the level of circulating unbound venom within a few hours.

The persistence of symptoms after the administration of antivenom is due to the inability of the antivenom to neutralize scorpion toxins already bound to their target receptors or inadequate antivenom amount. Scorpion stings are most serious in young children, older adults and pets. ...