Scorpion Sting Treatment and Prevention
FINCA TATIN, Guatemala- When in the tropics, I always shake out my clothes before putting them on my body, I always check my shoes to make sure no malicious little creature had made them their abode. This is preparation against scorpions, spiders, a half dozen other creatures that can bite, string, inject poison, or wrought pain upon an unscrupulous human.
I woke up yesterday as normal, I checked my shoes for scorpions as normal.
“There was a really big black scorpion on the roof!” my wife proclaimed the night before.
I thought he fled in the dark of night. I thought wrong.
I did not check the towel for scorpions before I wrapped it around my body. I ran out of my room clothed in only the towel. I readjusted it at one point. I felt something big cinch my hand while concurrently delivering a shot of pain.
I flayed my arm in the air. A little black beastie feel to the earth. As he ran beneath some leaves I caught a glimpse of his shape, his frontal claws, his tail curled up over his two inch body like a C. After 11 years of world travel, I had been stung by a scorpion.
A sigh of defeat emitted from my body, I felt as if I lost a long struggle. It finally happened, a scorpion got me. I had a moment of surreal suspension, that which I had feared happening for many years had happened. It took a moment for it to sink in.
When it did, I yelled some more. I cursed the little beastie.
I noticed that the pain was sharp, but not debilitating. I chuckled a little, I was bested:
The one time that I did not check all of my clothing was the time a scorpion laid dormant, ready to strike. Hundreds of times I have checked my clothing and shoes for scorpions and spiders to find nothing hiding. The one time that I approached my security check with frivolous haste was the one time that a scorpion was waiting for me.
Life just works out like that.
How to treat a scorpion sting
Now with a fresh scorpion sting it was time to determine what to do. It was not my impression that the scorpions in Guatemala are equipped with poison deadly enough to kill a man, but I sought to check anyway. It is interesting to note the amount of crystalline clarity a human can possess in times when the organism is threatened. In my short glimpse at the scorpion, I memorized its details as if I had taken a photo.
It was around four inches long from its claws to the crux of the arch in the tail, it was black, it waddled. I described it to one of the Maya cooks who is from the jungle.
“Es peligroso?” I asked.
She looked at me with eyes wide, “Es muy peligroso.”
My stung finger was now swollen to twice its normal capacity, both of my hands were numb, my feet tingled, my tongue was swollen, and my lips quivered. “Muy peligroso” was an ominous designation for my condition.
I asked around a little more, and determined that “muy peligroso” actually meant that the scorpion’s sting hurts a lot, not that it is deadly. I would be alright.
The day went by with my hands and feet tingling and my tongue swollen, though no lasting effects would come of the scorpion sting.
Most types of scorpion are more or less animals to avoid for the painful quality of their stings. Most are not deadly. There are a few scorpions that are poisonous and have had many deaths attributed to them, but it is my impression that their maliciousness has been played up greatly. Most scorpion stings will just hurt, not kill.
Out of 1500 scorpion species, 50 are dangerous to humans. Scorpion stings cause a wide range of conditions, from severe local skin reactions to neurologic, respiratory, and cardiovascular collapse. Envenomation from most scorpions results in a simple, painful, local reaction that can be treated with analgesics, antihistamines, and symptomatic/supportive care. –Scorpion Information
Scorpions are common in the eastern jungles of Guatemala. They are treated more or less like the people of the USA and Europe treat bees and wasps: you stay away from them because they can hurt you, but they are not usually biological entities that will challenge your senses of self preservation.
After 11 years of travel, I was finally stung by a scorpion. The effects of the sting were rather anticlimactic — nobody around here gave a shit that a scorpion stung me — but I must say that I am grateful for this fact.
In Guatemala, scorpion stings hurt, not kill. The treatment for which is to do nothing, and let the poison pass from your system. One day after being bitten, and the effects should subside. Besides washing the wound and taking pain mediation, no further treatment is necessary for most scorpion stings.
As with many other aspects of the natural world, scorpions are generally feared more than they are truly fearsome.
Though my hand still throbs as I write this.
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