Centipedes are very creepy creatures. Their length is in the range of 1 to 8 inches. Centipedes start with a few pairs of legs and they increase with each new segment. Centipedes are found worldwide. They thrive in damp, dark places and climates that are wet but can also be found in arid areas and deserts.
In the United States centipedes inhabit a wide range of habitats including urban areas, deserts and swamplands. Around the home, they can be found in floor drains, crawl spaces and basements.
Outside they will be in potted plants, under rocks, rotten logs and in gardens. They also survive underwater.
How do centipedes bite
Centipedes do not actually bite. They puncture the skin by scratching with their clawed pointy hollow legs located right behind their heads. They use these hollow legs to inject venom.
When centipedes sting and inject venom, they leave two puncture marks in the skin. The area surrounding the bite will become inflamed and red. The bigger the centipede is, the higher the volume of venom injected and the more intense the pain. Smaller centipedes inject very little venom and the pain of the sting can be compared to a bee sting.
Symptoms of centipede bite
Symptoms of a centipede sting are inflammation, pain and redness in the skin around the sting site. The symptoms can last hours to several days.
If you are allergic to centipede venom, you may experience symptoms including, fever, nausea, swollen lymph nodes, chills, itching, heart palpitations and extreme swelling at the sting site. If you experience any or a mix of these severe reactions see a doctor.
Because centipede bites may have similarities to bites from more dangerous insects, if you are unsure what bit you get yourself to a doctor, more so if you are experiencing severe symptoms.
Treatment of centipede sting
In the absence of complications, centipede sting treatment focuses on alleviation of the symptoms and can be done at home by observing the following:
- Apply hot compress on the sting site. This dilutes the venom.
- To reduce the inflammation apply an ice compress to the wound.
- Use medication under the guidance of a pharmacist to reduce allergic reaction, pain and swelling. Apply a topical antibiotic to the wound to avoid infection. Keep the sting site clean and cover it up.
- If your symptoms do not abate in a few days you will need to call the doctor.
Complications as a result of centipede stings are because of skin and tissue damage at the sting site. You will probably be given a tetanus shot and antibiotics by your doctor if infection has occurred.
If red streaks appear near the wound or it is emitting a bad odor inform your doctor quickly.
If you suffer severe allergic reactions such as hives, dizziness, and swelling of the lips, tongue and throat call emergency services immediately.
Centipede stings, although quite painful, hardly ever result in severe health problems in people. At home treatments work quite well at alleviating pain and symptoms.