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Centipede Bites

Centipedes are known to bite when aggravated or provoked.  Two modified legs near the centipede’s mouth allow it to bite.  Millipedes do not bite, but are often confused for centipedes.  There are several ways to distinguish between the two creatures.  Millipedes have multiple sets of legs per body segment, while a centipede has one.  Millipedes are round and movie sluggishly, but centipedes are fast, allowing them to capture prey.  Finally, the rear legs of a centipede point straight back, while the millipede’s legs remain in line with the rest.

A centipede bite delivers toxins.  These toxins may cause considerable pain, but they are not deadly.  Bites appear red, and may even show two small puncture wounds.  Numbness around the site of the bite is common.  Centipede bites are dangerous due to the risk of bacterial infection.  If a centipede bite is left untreated, the pain and swelling should often subside within a few days.  However, a bacterial infection left untreated can lead to severe problems, and in some rare cases may require amputations.

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Centipede bites should be washed with soap and water.  Applying an ice pack can reduce swelling.  Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and a hot compress may be used to reduce pain.  The bite area may itch and should be treated like a hornet sting.  This is accomplished by applying hydrocortisone cream, which reduces itching.  The most important thing to do is to watch the area closely for any sign of infection.  Prolonged swelling, discoloration, and other abnormalities apart from swelling should be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.  Allergic reactions are also possible, just like with a bee sting.  If there is swelling in the chest, throat, and mouth, trouble breathing, and headaches, then medical help should be sought immediately.

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