What to Know About Scorpion Stings

Getting Stung Can Be Painful and Serious

Telson (stinger) of an Arizona Bark Scorpion (Centruroides exilicauda)
••• John Cancalosi / Getty Images

We have many types of scorpions in Arizona. Scorpions don't bite (no teeth), but they do sting. If you remain calm, it is not difficult to treat a scorpion sting. Even if you are stung by the Arizona Bark Scorpion—the most dangerous and venomous of our scorpions—it is not likely to be fatal or even to have long-lasting effects. Local medical centers are familiar with the treatment.

Yes, You Can Die From a Scorpion Sting

People who are allergic to stings and bites, or people who have other medical conditions or weak immune systems may die from a scorpion sting, but it is not likely that a healthy adult would die from a sting.

babies, small children, and the elderly are more at risk, but even then, fatalities are rare.

Not All Scorpions Are Dangerous

Many people who contact me think that every scorpion they come across is the dreaded Arizona bark scorpion. That's not the case, but it is prudent to err on the side of caution if you are stung. If you want to be able to recognize scorpions when you come across them, here are some identifying features of the most common Arizona species.

The Symptoms of a Scorpion Sting

It is important to recognize scorpion sting symptoms: immediate pain or burning, very little swelling, sensitivity to touch, and a numbness/tingling sensation. More severe symptoms might include blurry vision, convulsions, and unconsciousness.

What You Should After a Sting

If you are stung by any scorpion, including the venomous Arizona Bark Scorpion, here are some immediate actions you should take as outlined by the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center:

  1. Wash the area with soap and water.
  2. Apply a cool compress on the area of the scorpion sting for ten minutes. Remove compress for ten minutes and repeat as necessary.
  3. If stung on a limb (arm or leg) position affected limb to a comfortable position.
  4. Call the Banner Good Samaritan Poison Control Center Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. They will assess the symptoms of the person who has been stung to determine the course of action. If severe symptoms are present, they will direct you to the nearest emergency facility for treatment. If a decision is made to keep the person at home, the Poison Center staff can follow up to make sure that the person is not developing symptoms that might need medical intervention or antivenin. Learn more about how the Banner Poison Control Center works.
  1. Keep your tetanus shots and boosters current.

Scorpion Sting Tips

  1. Be careful when camping or during other outdoor activities to make sure that a scorpion has not made a home in your clothes, shoes or sleeping bags.
  2. Scorpions glow brightly under UV light (black light).
  3. Scorpions are hard to kill off. If you suspect your house has scorpions, call a professional exterminator. Eliminating their food source (other insects) can help.
  4. Few people die from scorpion stings, even the sting of the bark scorpion. Scorpion stings are most dangerous to the very young and the very old. Pets are also at risk.
  5. All You Need To Know About Living With Scorpions in Phoenix: General Information, Species, Stings, Remedies, Prevention, Maps, Photos

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. If you are stung by a scorpion and are concerned about your symptoms, call the hotline as mentioned above, contact a medical professional or go to an emergency room.