Centipedes deliver a sting, or bite, when provoked. Centipedes sting by using two hollow pincers located at the base of the head. These pincers deliver a poison that induces swelling and pain. Centipede bites or stings are very similar to a bee sting. It appears red, swollen, and induces numbness and tingling around the area. Sometimes the only visual difference between a bee sting and a centipede sting is the presence of two visible puncture wounds from the pincers of the centipede.
The poison from a centipede is painful and causes swelling. These toxins are not deadly, but may cause an allergic reaction. Centipede stings can also cause a bacterial infection. In both cases, lack of treatment may lead to death. Symptoms from a normal sting from a centipede should disappear within a few days. In the meantime, there are a few steps that may be taken to ease the pain and swelling.
Wash the area of the sting with soap and water. This reduces the risk of a bacterial infection. Next, an ice pack may be applied to reduce swelling. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can reduce pain. Hydrocortisone cream may be applied to reduce itching caused by the sting. Allergic reactions are diagnosed by looking for swelling of the throat, mouth, and chest, difficulty breathing, and headaches. Professional help should be sought immediately for allergic reactions. A doctor-prescribed epinephrine pen may also be used for an allergic reaction. Symptoms of a bacterial infection are excess swelling, discoloration, and dark spots that generate from the sting. These may be treated with a doctor prescribed antibiotic.