(Bites and stings – Part I)
“Moooommmy!” Josiah screamed.
“What is it? Calm down, I’m trying to get the light to come on,” his mum replied, exasperated with the generator that wasn’t coming on.
“Something bit me,” he wailed, clutching his leg in pain.
Josiah’s mum rushed to his side with the torchlight and looked at his leg carefully. Even though she couldn’t see any sign of a bite, her son kept screaming. Confused, she looked around the room for the likely culprit while her mind raced at the possibilities. She just hoped it was not a snake or anything sinister because her husband wasn’t even home. Then at the corner of the room, she saw a tiny black scorpion with its tail arched above its head.
“Oh my God! It’s a scorpion!” she said, her voice quivering with a mix of fear and relief. She killed the scorpion and then turned to console her son.
Knowledge tip: A scorpion doesn’t bite humans. It stings, and most scorpion stings don’t leave a visible mark on the skin.
Josiah was in so much pain that she was flustered. She had never experienced a scorpion sting before and wasn’t sure of what to do. The only thing she had seen another person do was to eat raw onions and rub some on the affected part. She did the same for Josiah but he was still in a lot of pain. So, she tied a cloth above the point where she felt the scorpion could have stung him, and called her doctor. She narrated the incident and asked questions.
Q. What should I do when a scorpion stings?
- First of all, calm down. Do not panic. Most scorpion stings are not deadly, and can be managed at home.
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Apply a cold compress on the affected area.
- Do not tie anything on the arm or leg where the scorpion stung. In fact, you should remove anything that could become tight if the place gets swollen. Just keep the bite point lower than your heart level.
- Give pain relief medicine such as paracetamol while observing for signs that you need to get the person to the hospital.
Knowledge tip: Scorpion stings are mostly painful and scary, so remain calm as much as you can.
Q. When do I need to go to the hospital for a scorpion sting?
Answer: Most scorpion stings are not deadly. Intense pain is the most common symptom. Other symptoms include a burning feeling, numbness (reduced or absent feeling), or tingling feeling that comes in waves and often feels like something crawling up and down the affected part. Swelling, warmth, redness, or minor discomfort may also be present.
However, if you notice any of the following, you need to go to the hospital immediately because they are signs of a more severe reaction.
- Muscle twitching or seizures
- Difficulty in swallowing, drooling, or salivating
- Slurred speech
- Unusual head, eye, or neck movements.
- Difficulty in breathing
- Blurred (unclear) vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- High or low blood pressure
Children and the elderly are at higher risk of developing such severe symptoms. So you must observe them, especially in the first six hours after the sting.
Knowledge Tip: Most symptoms of a mild scorpion sting are gone within 1-3 days.
“Thank you doctor,” she said heaving a sigh of relief.
“You’re welcome. Also, I don’t know if you have heard some things people do after a scorpion sting such as asking the person that was stung to:
- Eat plenty of raw onions, drink milk or palm oil, chew garlic or ginger…
- Use a razor blade to cut the area, and put a black stone on it…
- Rub charcoal on the site…
- Pour kerosene or petrol on the affected part…
But I need you to know that all these are unfounded and have not been scientifically proven to work.”
Q. “But can I rub onion on a scorpion sting site?”
Answer: “Applying freshly cut onions on the site may help but not always. This is because onions have anti-inflammatory properties and could reduce pain, but it has no effect on any of the other symptoms. So if you have onions, you may give it a try but don’t waste time looking for onions before doing the other things I said earlier.
“Oh thank you! Thank you! I’m so grateful. Have a lovely night”
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