What a Scorpion Is
A scorpion is part of the arachnid family, which also includes
, and spiders. Scorpions are about 3 inches long (about the
length of a crayon), with eight legs and a small pair of claws that
look like crabs' claws. A scorpion's stinger is at the end
of its long tail.
There are more than 1,000 species of scorpions all over the
world, and at least 70 species are found in United States,
mostly in the southwestern states and Florida. Of these species,
only one type of scorpion, which usually lives in Arizona, New
Mexico, and other southwestern states, can kill people. Scorpions
like to live in cool, damp places like basements, wood piles, and
junk piles. They are usually nocturnal (they sleep during the day
and come out at night) and are usually more active when it
What a Scorpion Sting Looks and Feels Like
If a person gets stung by a scorpion, the area of the sting will
hurt and may get swollen or red, depending on the type of scorpion.
More severe reactions from the venom (poison) involving other
parts of the body also can occur.
What You Should Do
If you ever think you've been stung by a scorpion,
tell an adult immediately.
Because it's hard to tell a dangerous scorpion from one that is
harmless, all scorpion stings must be treated by a doctor. With an
adult's help, put an ice pack on the sting immediately to keep
What a Doctor Will Do
Doctors treat someone stung by a scorpion with medications
if needed that help take pain away and control the body's
reactions to the venom. They may give a medicine called antivenin
that fights the scorpion's venom to someone who doesn't get
better with the other medications.
How to Avoid Getting Bitten
The best way to avoid getting stung by scorpions is to avoid the
places where they like to spend time. Don't play in junk piles
or wood piles, and if you are working outside with big piles of
logs, wear gloves. If you live in the American Southwest and keep
your shoes in a garage, basement, or mudroom, shake them out
carefully before putting them on.
Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: September 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.