"Shingles" : Get Outdoors


by Jan Hackett on 04/02/12

While doing some spring clean-up around the house I had a personal encounter of the painful kind. I reached into a pile of wood to grab a couple of old shingles. While walking and folding them to throw away I felt a sharp “sting” on my left thumb. As I threw them to the ground and looked at my thumb I saw the light brown Arachnid scurry away, I had been stung by a scorpion.

The pain was instantaneous with no obvious point of entry from the barb.  I have used my Sawyer extractor for bee stings with great success and I headed to my first aid kit to conduct first hand research on scorpion stings. With no sign of entry it was difficult to know where to apply the suction which resulted in little or no benefit.

At that point I headed to get my lecture notes and double check the signs and symptoms along with treatment:      


   Grade I localized pain & numbness hurts more when taped on

   Grade II pain & numbness spreads

   Grade III Cranial or somatic nerve dysfunction

      Cranial – jerky eye movement, trouble breathing & swallowing, slurred speech, airway problems

      Somatic – restlessness, jerking & shaking of extremities

Grade IV – Both cranial & somatic nerve dysfunction


 Grade I & II – Ice pack 30 minutes of each hour, oral pain killers

Grade III & IV – Same as above plus maintain airway

Antivenom is available but does not relieve pain only given if S/S are    life threatening

I had a Grade I; localized pain & numbness hurts more when taped along with a little tingling in my lips.  The numbness in my lips lasted about an hour and felt much like that last bit of Novocain wearing off.  The thumb was still painful after four hours but I did not take any type of pain relief.

Scorpions are nocturnal feeders and seek shelter from the heat of the day under rocks, wood, shoes, clothing, sleeping bags and apparently shingles. The venom is a neurotoxin and is present in all 1752 species fortunately there are only 25 species known to have venom capable of killing humans.


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