Centipede Bites: Everything You Need to Know

If you have a healthy garden, it will naturally have a diverse set of inhabitants and visitors. Unfortunately, some of these can be potentially dangerous or nuisance pests — like centipedes. If you have centipedes in your garden you are at risk of getting bitten — especially If you are very hands-on in your garden. Centipede bites are very uncommon but here is everything you need to know about centipede bites…

Centipede bites — fast facts

  • Centipede bites rarely occur. Centipedes are predatory carnivores, but they are shy around humans. When they encounter humans, they usually just scurry away to avoid contact. This is why centipede bites on humans are rare. They only happen when a centipede is put in a corner and has no choice but to fight back. It will bite if it feels threatened. Yes, they are rare, but you shouldn’t underestimate them when they do happen. They can be clinically significant because of the localized pain you can experience. This pain can also be accompanied by serious complications like anaphylaxis and local necrosis.
  • There are many factors that determine whether a centipede bite is dangerous or not. Most centipede bites are actually not dangerous. But there are times when they are. There are many factors that determine whether a centipede bite is truly dangerous or not, such as the size and species of the centipede, the age and overall health of the victim, the location of the bite, and how the victim’s body is reacting to the bite. Bigger centipedes are obviously more dangerous. Children, the elderly, and those with allergies and weakened immune systems are more vulnerable. And bites located on the face and neck are more dangerous simply because these areas are more sensitive.
  • In rare cases, centipede bites can lead to serious complications. Even though most cases of centipede bites only result in localized pain and swelling, there are some rare cases where they become serious. Centipede bites can lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. They can lead to necrosis, or the death of cells and tissues. And they can also lead to infections because of the open wounds the centipede bites leave behind.
Centipede bites rarely occur, but they can be dangerous in some cases.

Centipede bite symptoms

  • Centipede bites can lead to pain, redness, and swelling. Centipedes use their forcipules to pinch the skin of humans and inject venom into it. This is essentially how centipede bites work even though technically they are not “bites” since forcipules are not jaws but front legs. This can lead to pain as the forcipules pinch your skin. And this can lead to inflammation in the area causing redness and swelling. Centipede bites look similar to insect bites — they are red bumps with a puncture mark at the center.
  • They can be itchy and numb. Centipedes use their venom to immobilize prey. Against humans, they use their venom as a defense mechanism if they see you as a threat. Centipede venom is pharmacologically diverse. It contains peptides, proteins, and other ingredients. Your body can negatively react to these substances, triggering allergic reactions and symptoms such as itching and numbing of the affected area. Don’t underestimate allergic reactions because they can be deadly too. Severe allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis, are considered medical emergencies for a reason. They can be fatal because they can lead to respiratory collapse.
  • Some people may experience systemic symptoms like fever, headache, and nausea. Centipede venom and its ingredients can affect different bodily systems, such as cardiovascular systems and nervous systems. This is why some people who experience centipede bites can develop systemic symptoms like fever, headache, nausea, and even vomiting. Different people will experience different symptoms, depending on how their body reacts to the venom. It’s a good idea to seek medical attention if systemic symptoms do occur because they can mean that your body is seriously reacting to the centipede bites.

Centipede bite treatments

  • You can treat most centipede bites at home with water, soap, and an ice pack. Since most centipede bites are not seriously dangerous, you can treat most of them at home. Wash the affected area with water and soap to clean it and prevent infections. And then you can do a cold compress to minimize pain and swelling. Place the ice pack on the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes. Take a break for the same number of minutes. And then apply again. Avoid placing ice directly on your skin because this can lead to ice burn and frostbite. Make sure to use a ready-made ice pack or make one on your own with ice cubes and a piece of cloth.
  • Try over-the-counter medications. You can also go to your local pharmacy and buy some over-the-counter medications to help alleviate the symptoms of centipede bites. Try pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to help reduce discomfort and pain. Try antihistamines like diphenhydramine to help reduce itching and swelling. And try topical creams like calamine and hydrocortisone to further help with the itching and swelling. Don’t forget to consult the healthcare professional on duty to know how to properly use these medications.
  • Seek medical attention if your condition doesn’t improve. With the help of home remedies like ice packs and soaps and over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers, you should get better in about 48 hours. If you don’t notice any improvements or if your condition is actually getting worse, seek medical attention immediately. This is particularly important if you are experiencing severe symptoms.
Seek medical attention if your centipede bite symptoms don't improve.

Centipede bites are usually not dangerous

You can have centipedes in your garden. They are attracted to insects, spiders, and other food sources like garbage cans. They are also attracted to moisture and shelter opportunities, which your garden probably has plenty of. This puts you at risk of centipede bites.

Most centipede bites are not dangerous. They only lead to localized pain, itching, and swelling. You can usually treat these symptoms by cleaning the affected area, applying a cold compress, and taking over-the-counter medications. However, there are rare cases where you can experience systemic symptoms like fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting. You may also experience severe allergic reactions. In these cases, you should seek medical attention immediately.

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