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What You Need to Know About Scorpions and Their Sting

If you live in Southern California, you probably know someone who has found a scorpion on their property. If you have seen one of these unmistakable lobster-like creatures yourself, you probably stayed well away from its stinger. Here’s what you need to know about scorpions and their sting and what to do if you are stung.

Which Species Are Common in Southern California?

Dozens of species of scorpions live throughout the desert southwest in California, Arizona, and Mexico. Here in the desert cities of Southern California, a few are more commonly found in the wilderness as well as residential areas:

  • Stripedtail scorpions are 2 ½ inches long with characteristic stripes along their bodies.
  • Arizona hairy scorpions are one of the largest species that reach 5–7 inches in length.
  • California common scorpions are light in color and grow to be 2-3 inches long.
  • Bark scorpions have a very narrow tail and can be up to 3 inches in length.

Although these and other scorpions love the dry heat, they can also be found along the coast and in the mountains.

What Happens If You Get Stung?

Scorpions use their stingers to apply a dose of venom to immobilize prey such as insects, mice, and other scorpions. They are then able to continue with their meal.  When threatened by a human, a scorpion won’t hesitate to use their stinger as a defense.

Similar to bee and snake venom, scorpion venom produces an immediate and painful sensation. Scorpion venom may be the most expensive liquid in the world at $39 million per gallon, but it is extremely painful. According to ABC News, people bitten by the bark scorpion claim the pain is ranked among the top 10 most painful stings.

Fortunately, most scorpion venom is not fatal. However, the results are certainly far from comfortable. In addition to radiating pain throughout the site of the sting, you will probably experience sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Any small movement or touch to the site increases the burning pain.

Similar to bee sting allergies, those with allergies to scorpion venom can experience allergic reactions like:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Uncontrolled muscle twitching
  • Heart palpitations
  • Unconsciousness
  • Drop in blood pressure

Only a handful of scorpion species possess venom that is lethal enough to humans. Most of these deadly species reside outside of the United States. However, the venom of the bark scorpion can be fatal to children or elderly people who do not receive medical attention in time.

How Can You Avoid a Scorpion Encounter?

The best way to avoid a scorpion sting is to avoid an encounter with one in the first place. You can eliminate the likelihood that scorpions hang out near your home when you take a few simple precautions.

  • Add weather stripping around doors and windows to block all possible entry into your home. Make sure screens fit tight and don’t have holes or tears.
  • Keep the foundation of your home clear of items that create a hiding space like firewood, bricks, stones, and other debris.
  • Check for scorpions before you move or use outdoor furniture, shoes, or anything a scorpion can hide under. Wear gloves when you work in the yard to protect your hands and wrists.

Remember that scorpions like to hide anywhere during the heat of the day.

Where Can You Get Treatment?

If you are stung by a scorpion, try to capture the scorpion or snap a photo for identification. This helps medical professionals find the correct antivenin if necessary. Otherwise, immediately clean the area and apply pressure with a cold compress to minimize swelling and pain.

Visit a medical professional if you experience any allergic reactions or the pain is extremely intense and does not diminish. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Premier Urgent Care Centers of California, Inc., is ready to help if you or a loved one is stung by a scorpion.

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