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Show full transcript for Spider Bites, Tick Bites and Scorpion Stings video

This first aid lesson is for the treatment of spider bites, tick bites, and scorpion stings. While these encounters can be alarming and sometimes painful, knowing the proper first aid steps can help ensure a swift and effective response and recovery.

It's important to keep in mind that millions of people are bitten or stung by spiders, ticks, and scorpions every year in the United States alone, and most of these are harmless. However, in this lesson, we’re going to focus on generalized treatment and what to watch for in more severe cases.

Remember that the priority is always safety. Once you and the victim are out of harm's way, see if there is a way to identify what bit or stung you, as this can help identify appropriate treatment if needed. But only do this if it can be done safely.

Since all of these bites or stings will have punctured the skin, gently washing with soap and water is always the recommended first step. If you notice any concerning reactions or symptoms, seek medical help immediately. In that case, watch for skin discoloration or blistering, nausea, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, change in responsiveness, or significant pain.

If there are no immediate health concerns, here are the steps to handle these bites or stings.

First Aid Steps for Spider Bites

If you're in a geographical area where there are venomous spiders, remove yourself from the vicinity to avoid further bites.>

  1. It's important to identify the spider responsible for the bite whenever safe and possible.
  2. Wash the bite area with mild soap and water.
  3. Elevate the bitten extremity and apply a cold compress or an ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth to the bite site. Elevating the bitten extremity will help reduce pain and swelling.

Leave the compress or ice pack on the bite site for about 10-15 minutes each hour.

Symptoms Associated with Spider Bites

Symptoms associated with spider bites can vary from minor to severe. Although extremely rare, death can occur in the most severe cases. Possible symptoms resulting from a spider bite include the following:

  • Itching or rash
  • Pain radiating from the site of the bite
  • Muscle pain or cramping
  • Reddish to purplish color or blister
  • Increased sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • High blood pressure

Pro Tip #1: For suspected or confirmed bites from venomous spiders, such as black widows or brown recluse spiders, it's crucial to seek immediate medical attention. Call emergency services or visit the nearest hospital.

First Aid Steps for Tick Bites

The important thing to remember with tick bites is that the longer the tick is attached, the more likely it is to transmit diseases. So acting quickly is definitely in the victim's best interest.

  1. Remove the tick promptly using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
  2. Pull the tick away from the skin steadily and slowly with firmness, and try to avoid twisting or crushing the tick during this process. The skin will tent, and the tick will eventually let go.
  3. Clean the area with mild soap and water.

Pro Tip #2: If you're concerned about tick-borne diseases, you can preserve the tick in a sealed container or a plastic bag. This may assist healthcare professionals in identifying the tick and determining the risk of disease transmission.

Please note that if the head comes off and stays embedded in the skin, call emergency services or visit the nearest hospital.

A Word of Caution

Avoid folklore such as painting the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible – not waiting for it to detach.

If you develop a rash or fever within several days to weeks after removing a tick, see your doctor.

Tick Bite Bot: An Interactive Tool for Dealing with Tick Bites

The CDC has an interactive tool that can assist you in the removal of attached ticks and also advise you on when to seek medical attention.

This online mobile-friendly tool asks a series of questions covering topics such as tick attachment time and symptoms. Based on the user's responses, the tool will then provide information on first-aid treatment options.

First Aid Steps for Scorpion Stings

Like with spider bites, remember to first remove yourself from the area to prevent further stings.

  1. Clean the sting site with mild soap and water.
  2. Apply a cold compress or an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the sting site to help with the pain.

Pro Tip #3: While most scorpion stings are harmless, seeking medical attention is essential to be safe, as venomous species can be fatal to humans. Call emergency services or visit the nearest hospital immediately.

When it comes to scorpions, prevention is key. Be proactive and take precautions by checking your clothing and inside your shoes before putting them on wherever these creatures are common.

And remember that if you are stung, stay calm and follow the steps above. And as always, seek professional medical help whenever necessary.

Symptoms Associated with Scorpion Stings

Symptoms usually subside within 48 hours, although stings from a bark scorpion can be life-threatening. Symptoms of a scorpion sting may include:

  • A stinging or burning sensation at the injection site
  • Extreme pain when the sting site is tapped with a finger
  • Restlessness
  • Convulsions
  • Roving eyes
  • Staggering gait
  • Thick tongue sensation
  • Slurred speech
  • Drooling
  • Muscle twitches
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Respiratory depression