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I Think I Got Stung By a Scorpion—What Should I Do?

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I Think I Got Stung By a Scorpion—What Should I Do?

Aug 12, 2015

Most scorpion stings happen on the feet. If you think that painful spot is from a scorpion stinger, don’t panic. Brad Dahl from the Utah Poison Control Center takes three minutes to talk about what to do if you get stung. While it will be painful, you aren’t in any grave danger. If you have any other questions, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Episode Transcript

Interviewer: You've been stung by a scorpion. Should that bother you? Should you freak out or are things going to be okay? We're going to find out next on The Scope.

Announcer: Medical news and research from University of Utah Physicians and Specialists you can use for a happier, healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

Interviewer: Poison Expert Dr. Brad Dahl works at the Utah Poison Control Center and I guess I didn't realize there were a lot of scorpions here in Utah, but you get some calls from people that think that they're stung by scorpions. Let's talk about scorpions.

Dr. Dahl: Yeah, right now actually we're getting quite a few calls about scorpions. I don't know whether it's because of the recent wet weather or what's going on, but they will sting you.

Interviewer: So I guess Utah Poison Control Center covers the whole state so you are getting some of these reports. Scorpion stings, what should I do if I've been stung by a scorpion?

Dr. Dahl: Well, the first thing you want to do is wash it off, soap and water, because we don't want it to get infected. The next thing you want to do is call us and we'll help you work through this and make sure that you do okay with it.

Interviewer: Where is kind of the most common place people are getting stung? Bottom of the foot, like putting their shoe on?

Dr. Dahl: Well, usually, it's because they're walking around barefoot and they step on it. Sometimes it's in their clothes and so if you're putting on a shirt you'll get stung anywhere that the shirt is touching. We did have a guy who had a scorpion in his underwear.

Interviewer: No thank you.

Dr. Dahl: Yeah, the good news is it stung him on the butt. It could have been a lot worse.

Interviewer: So is it in clothes, normally? Or barefoot, generally? That's how people are getting them?

Dr. Dahl: I think the foot is the most common.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Dahl: Because you're walking around your house and if you're somewhere where there are scorpions, you don't see them. A lot of them are very tiny so unless you're carrying a black light with you, you're not going to see them.

Interviewer: Really?

Dr. Dahl: Yeah. They all light up with a black light. It's pretty cool.

Interviewer: So do you usually know that it's a scorpion that bit you? I mean, I guess I envision the classic scorpion going across the ground and stinging you.

Dr. Dahl: Yeah no. They sting. They don't bite. I mean, you know because it hurts. The venom hurts. The good news is that

Interviewer: But most of the time, you might not even see that that's what it was?

Dr. Dahl: Pretty much everybody who calls me well, we get plenty of people who are stung by things that they don't know what it was, but most of the scorpions, they know, they see it. So they know what it is. They're not that fast.

Interviewer: And instantly it starts hurting?

Dr. Dahl: Oh, yeah. Yeah, the pain is instantaneous.

Interviewer: Okay. Dr. Dahl: The good news is the scorpions that live here in Utah are fairly benign. Usually, that pain, within an hour or so, it goes away and everything is fine. They rarely swell up much. Interviewer: Al. right. So call Poison Control just as a matter of probably caution, but generally not something that's going to be a major issue?

Dr. Dahl: That is correct. Yes.

Interviewer: All right. Anything else I need to know about scorpions?

Dr. Dahl: Well, there is a venomous scorpion in Arizona that can make you pretty sick and every so often we'll get somebody who's been visiting down there and brings it back in their suitcase.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Dahl: Okay. So that's the other issue. I mean, if you're in the Salt Lake Valley and you get stung by a scorpion, we want to know where have you been? Have you had any visitors from Arizona? And we've had a few of those. They can make you pretty sick. They're not going to kill you, but it could make you pretty sick. Try to pay attention and call the Poison Center. 1-800-222-1222. We're there 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
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