Thursday, September 1, 2011

Beware the Scorpions!

With temperatures still skyrocketing here in Texas, many unwanted critters are showing up in our homes as they seek water and shade, which means more exposure to pests such as scorpions. It never ceases to amaze me how they rear up in full attack mode as I lean forward to kill them...and that each and every time it scares me enough to hesitate before I strike.

So, what do you do if you (or a friend or family member) is stung by a scorpion? First of all, don't panic! Most of the time, a scorpion sting is like a bee sting- pain, burning, mild swelling and maybe numbness locally, that will resolve fairly quickly. If you live in Texas, we are fortunate that our scorpions, scary as they can look, are not severely poisonous. If you live in New Mexico or Arizona, watch out for the dreaded bark scorpion, which can cause more serious reactions such as severe swelling, shortness of breath, shock and even death. If you are stung and your symptoms rapidly escalate, go directly to an emergency room.

For the majority of stings, however, first aid will do. Wash the area immediately with soap and water. Ice and elevate the area if possible. Remove any rings, bracelets, watches or other constrictive accessories. If you are starting to swell up, take a diphenhydramine (benadryl) tablet/capsule. Topical steroid wont hurt, and might help a bit. Ice the area for about ten minutes.
A non-scientifically proven, but much recommended home remedy is to very quickly apply a paste of meat tenderizer (with papaya extract) and a bit of water directly onto the area that was stung. This seems to alleviate the pain more rapidly, and at worst case, it is not harmful. Finally, check the date of your last tetanus shot- if it is more than 7 years ago, go get a new one.

BOTTOM LINE: If you are stung by a scorpion in Texas, wash it with soap & water, apply ice, take some benadryl and see your doctor if symptoms escalate (or if you are behind on your tetanus booster.)
PS. Happy September 1st! You know what to do- change those AIR FILTERS!

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