Identifying and Treating a Centipede Bite

Centipedes are commonly found in moist places like under rocks, in crevices, or even inside houses. They are not dangerous unless they get into your body. But if you come across one while walking around outside, it may look very strange and scary at first sight. You might feel scared because it looks so big! However, it’s just a harmless little creature that doesn’t pose any danger to humans.

Centipedes are usually brownish green in color with long legs and antennae. Their bodies are cylindrical in shape. Sometimes they have two pairs of wings, but these do not seem to be used much for flying. Most of them live underground and only emerge from time to time to feed on insects or other invertebrates living there. They don’t attack humans unless provoked, which happens rarely since most people tend to avoid such creatures when they see them.

In case of a centipede bite, it’s important to immediately seek medical attention. If you don’t want to go to hospital, then you need to take care of the wound yourself. Here are some things that will help you:

1) Don’t move the bitten area.

The pain should subside within few hours after the bite has healed completely. Move only if absolutely necessary and try not to scratch or poke it with sharp objects as this could lead to infection.

2) Keep the bite area below the heart level to control the spread of venom in the body.

Elevating it may also help prevent the spread of venom in your body.

3) Clean the bite area with water and apply a dressing to prevent infection from setting in.

You can do this by wrapping it with a cloth strip or using a wound adhesive bandage.

4) Keep the bite area raised as much as you can to control the spread of venom in the body.

5) If you are allergic to the bite, it’s a good idea to carry an epinephrine shot with you at all times.

Take the shot immediately and get medical attention right away.

6) Some people also have a mild reaction to centipede venom and may notice some swelling around the bite wound.

In this case, you should keep the bite wound dry and clean it regularly. Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and take a painkiller if you experience discomfort or pain.

This is how you can protect yourself from centipede bites. These creatures should not be provoked and if you see one in your home, then it’s best to leave it alone as they are not fond of disturbances. They prefer to crawl away silently into dark places when disturbed. Here are some more facts about centipedes that you may find interesting:

1) Most centipedes are not poisonous.

Only a few types are actually poisonous and even in these cases the poison is not strong enough to kill a human being. The bite may hurt a lot but it’s not life-threatening.

2) If you have been bitten by a centipede and started feeling unwell, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to die or suffer from any serious after-effects.

Only a few types of centipedes have poisonous venom that can be fatal if not treated immediately. In all other cases, you can treat the bite yourself at home without any medical help.

3) While the bite may be very painful, you can take painkillers to alleviate the pain and reduce swelling and inflammation.

Take a painkiller and keep the bitten area elevated to stop the spread of venom in your body.

4) Even though most centipedes are not poisonous, they may release an unpleasant odor when disturbed.

This is their way of protecting themselves when they are attacked or threatened in any way.

5) The most dangerous types of centipedes are found in tropical and subtropical areas.

These centipedes can grow to lengths of over 30 centimeters and are dark in color with varying length legs. In some parts of the world, there are giant tropical centipedes that can be as long as 55 centimeters!

6) There are also smaller species of non-poisonous centipedes that have limited reach.

The most common of these are the household centipedes that rarely grow longer than 4 or 5 inches.

7) While it is very unlikely to be bitten by a centipede, certain measures should be taken just in case you are.

There are no anti-venom treatments available for centipede bites so you should take steps to treat the bite immediately and control the spread of any venom that may have entered your body.

8) You should see a doctor immediately if you start experiencing an allergic reaction to the bite.

Also get medical help if you feel dizzy, nauseated or weak or experience trouble breathing after being bitten. These reactions are signs of an allergic reaction to the venom and need to be treated right away.

9) There are no centipedes in Antarctica.

The lowest latitude at which centipedes have been found is in Minnesota, U.S. at 44 degrees N.

10) The first written record of a centipede comes from ancient Egypt. It was recorded in a papyrus that a doctor tried to use an extract made from 2,000 centipedes in an attempt to cure a headache!

Sources & references used in this article:

Epidemiological aspects of centipede (Scolopendromorphae: Chilopoda) bites registered in greater S. Paulo, SP, Brazil by I Knysak, R Martins, CR Bertim – Revista de saude publica, 1998 – SciELO Brasil

Prospective study of centipede bites in Australia by CR Balit, MS Harvey, JM Waldock… – Journal of Toxicology …, 2004 – Taylor & Francis

Features of centipede bites in Taivuan by TJ Lin, CC Yang, GY Yang, J Ger… – Tropical and …, 1995 –

A clinical analysis of 179 cases of centipede bite patients who visited the emergency department in Korea by JH Kwon, SH Seol, SC Choi, GW Kim, HC Yuh… – Journal of The Korean …, 2008 –

Venomous Arthropod Handbook: Envenomization Symptoms/treatment, Identification, Biology and Control by TL Biery – 1977 –