Centipede bites occur as a result of the centipede’s pincer-like maxillipeds, calledtoxicognaths or “poison claws”, that pierce the skin an inject venom into the wound. These toxicognaths are located adjacent to the head. In actuality, true mouthparts do not cause the bite but rather the modified legs or toxicognaths. This serves as their defense mechanism against their predators. Furthermore, centipedes are also capable of camouflaging as a sort of defense.Although centipede bites are venomous, it is not enough to cause serious injuries to humans. Those who are at greatest risks for complications are children and those who develop allergic reactions. But the larger the centipede is, the greater the pain is associated.
Centipedes are found all over the world and thus, this can occur anywhere. Centipedes should not be mistaken for caterpillars. Centipedes have a long, flattened body with long antennae and many body segments with a pair of walking legs on each segment, whereas caterpillars are elongated, wormlike larvae with three regions that develop into moths and butterflies.
Symptoms of Centipede Bites
Centipede bites are usually obvious as even if centipedes are generally fast invertebrates, they usually do not escape the scene immediately. Symptoms generally last for only a few hours. The symptoms generally associated with centipede bites include:
- Two small puncture wounds
- Immediate, severe pain
- Generally associated with the size
- Swelling and redness in the bite location
- Intense itching
- Headache and dizziness
- In rare cases, swollen lymph nodes and numbness in the bite location
- For those who are allergic to centipede venom, breathing difficulties, swollen throat and increased heart rate may be observed,
First Aid Management for Centipede Bites
Centipede bites can be managed at home even with minimal treatment. Although symptoms usually go away on their own, first aid may be applied to relieve from discomfort and other symptoms the person may be feeling. To give first aid:
- Remain calm. Advise the person to remain calm as well and reassure him/ her that it can be treated right away.
- Thoroughly clean the affected area with water and plenty of soap. Do not use alcohol to clean the wound.
- Apply an ice pack on the area of the bite for 10 minutes and remove for another ten minutes.
- To relieve of pain, acetaminophen and ibuprofen may be taken. Aspirin may also be taken but do not give to children.
- Apply hydrocortisone cream if there is itching.
- Observe the area for infection.
- If there is an allergic reaction, treat accordingly.
How to Prevent Centipede Bites
Centipede bites can be prevented. Here are some tips that can help reduce
chances of centipede bites.
- Avoid going in areas known to have centipedes. Centipedes are known to live in tree barks and stones, thus always be wary of other organisms that may be found in the area.
- Before engaging in gardening activities, wear enough protective gear in case one comes into contact with centipedes and other organisms.
To learn more on centipede bites and how to treat bites from other insects, enroll in First Aid Courses.