Scorpions are found all over the world. They are arachnids that are closely related to spiders, ticks and mites. Scorpions have the ability to kill their prey by injecting venom from a sting located at the end of their tail. Since many scorpions are often found indoors in association with humans, many are frequently stung by scorpions.
The common striped scorpion or Centruroides vittatus is typically encountered by humans. It is responsible for thousands of stings yearly which are mostly harmless other than causing moderate amount of pain at the sting site. The venom of the common striped scorpion has low toxicity and only causes a few deaths. Take note that the venom is responsible for neurotoxic symptoms including tingling and numbness all over the body of the victim.
What is scorpion allergy?
Scorpion stings are known to trigger allergic reactions including a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis. In most cases, allergic reactions from a scorpion sting are wrongly attributed to the neurotoxins in the venom.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction after a scorpion sting are similar to a honeybee sting which includes the following:
- Asthma-like symptoms
- Hives and swelling
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Allergic rhinitis symptoms
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Feeling of impending doom
Diagnosing scorpion allergy
At the present, there is no available testing to diagnose scorpion allergy. Always bear in mind that only a few studies are able to diagnose an allergic reaction to scorpion venom. It is important to note that scorpion stings can put an individual at risk for allergic reactions and these symptoms are not always attributed to neurotoxins.
Who are at risk for scorpion allergy?
Generally, an allergic reaction occurs when an individual has been exposed to the substance in the past. After the first exposure, antibodies are produced. Once the individual is exposed again, an allergic reaction is triggered. It simply means that an individual can experience an allergic reaction to a scorpion sting if he/she has been exposed previously.
Nevertheless, it appears that some individuals experience an allergic reaction to their first scorpion sting. This indicates that there is another substance that is similar to scorpion venom that the immune system treats the same which is called as cross-reactivity.
Management of scorpion allergy
An acute allergic reaction from a scorpion sting can be managed in a similar manner to an insect sting. The treatment typically includes injectable epinephrine, oral or injectable corticosteroids as well as antihistamines.
At the present, there is no cure for individuals with scorpion allergy other than avoidance. Nevertheless, due to the cross-reactivity between scorpion and imported fire ant venom, it is believed that treatment involving allergy shots utilizing imported fire ant extract can help avert future allergic reactions to the scorpion stings. On the other hand, further studies are required before this can be recommended as a course of treatment.