• Scorpion Bites

    Scorpions live in dry regions, such as the southwestern United States and Mexico. They live under rocks, logs and the bark of certain trees. They are most active at night. Like spiders, only a few species of scorpions have a sting that can cause death.

    Signs and Symptoms of Scorpion Bites

    A scorpion sting causes pain, tingling, burning and numbness at the site. Life-threatening signs and symptoms that affect the whole body (such as numbness, difficulty breathing and seizures) may develop.

    Emergency Steps


    Check the scene safety, form an initial impression, obtain consent and put on PPE, as appropriate.

    • Rigid shoulder, chest, back or abdominal muscles*
    • Anxiety or restlessness*
    • Headache or dizziness*
    • Excessive sweating*
    • Weakness*
    • Eyelid drooping or swelling*
    • Little or no initial pain; pain developing one plus hours later*
    • Blood-filled blister under skin
    • Target or bullseye pattern increasing in size causing tissue destruction and black scab*
    • Generalized body numbness*
    • Trouble breathing*
    • Seizures*
    • Immediate sharp pinprick pain, then dull pain in bite area
    • Localized pain, tingling, burning or numbness
    • Swelling or redness

    *Note: Signs and symptoms with a * require immediate emergency medical treatment.


    Call 9-1-1 and get equipment if the person requires immediate emergency medical treatment.


    Give Care.

    General Care

    1. Wash area with soap and water.
    2. For harmless spider bite, apply small amount of antibiotic wound ointment, cream or gel if no known allergies or sensitivities.
    3. Apply a cold pack wrapped in a thin, dry towel.
    4. For black widow or brown recluse spider bite, keep area elevated and as still as possible while waiting for EMS to arrive.
    5. For scorpion sting, have person seek immediate medical care.
    6. Continue checking them as appropriate to determine if additional care is needed.
    7. Keep them from getting cold or overheated.
    8. Give care for shock, if necessary.
    9. Position the person as appropriate.
    10. Assist with or administer medication, if needed, according to your level of training.
    11. Reassure them you will help and that EMS has been called (if appropriate).
    12. Watch for changes in condition, including breathing and responsiveness, and give care as appropriate and trained.

    Scorpion Bite FAQs

    How can I tell if a scorpion is poisonous?

    It is very difficult to distinguish between poisonous and nonpoisonous scorpions. All scorpion stings should be treated as medical emergencies.

    Is it true that applying a tourniquet, cutting the wound, applying suction, applying ice or applying electricity can help to slow the spread of venom throughout the body?

    This is a myth. None of these measures help slow the spread of venom but are likely to cause pain and injury. Seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

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