I'm going to be doing some backpacking in a desert environment state park. In the event that someone in my party is stung by a scorpion, what is the proper first aid? Note that we may be in a remote location which means it may be several hours before we can get to a road, trailhead, or even to a location that has cell service.

The park I'll be hiking in is Anza-Borrego Desert SP in California.

4 Answers 4


The best thing for a scorpion sting:

  1. wash the area
  2. apply an ice-pack or cold compress
  3. consider aspirin or ibuprofen for pain and swelling
  4. wait it out

There is nothing else you can do. They can hurt. A lot. But generally aren't an issue.

The exception to this rule, is the Arizona bark scorpion which is found in the Sonoran desert through AZ and southern CA (the area you are headed to). These diminutive critters pack a powerful punch, and can lead to partial paralysis, seizures, and respiratory distress or failure. These symptoms are more common in the elderly, small children, or those with compromised immune systems.

Your best treatment is prevention:

  • wait till you are headed to bed to roll out your sleeping bag
  • shake out clothes and boots before putting them on
  • Never, never, NEVER hike at night with a black light. This won't put you in harm's way, but seeing how many are actually out there will freak you out.

Just for grins (this is NOT a bark scorpion): From lbell.org http://lbell.org/87/scorpius-maximus/


I don't know what's recommended. I carry a Sawyer Extractor for snakebites. I've used it on a spider bite and various insect bites. It works by using a vacuum to extract the venom or whatever has entered the puncture. If I got stung by anything, including a scorpion, it's what I'd start with.


Do not put ice on scorpion bites! Just cold compress...that is direct from Poison control.

Fyi I have used the inner fillet of prickly pear cactus pad twice on bark scorpion stings... it works very well to take away alot of the nerve pain symptons..the Native Americans of Sonoran desert used this remedy to great effect.

  • Please elaborate your answer. Why? Can you add a link to the authority you refer to?
    – JJJ
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 13:24

As someone who has been stung twice by bark scorpions in Arizona, I also advise taking an antihistamine like Benadryl to keep inflammation down and decrease any minor allergic reaction. (Beer also helped a lot.)

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