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Centipede Bite

Centipede Bite

If you are as mortified as I am of centipedes and would love to know how to kill centipedes, then please read on. I will also tell you how to treat a centipede bite if you ever happen to become an unfortunate victim of this hundred-legged creepy-crawly!!!
Ankana Dey Choudhury
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
Now what sort of man or woman or monster would stroke a centipede on his underbelly? "And here is my good big centipede!" If such a man exists, I say kill him without more ado. He is a traitor to the human race. . - William S. Burroughs in "The Western Lands", Chapter: 4 (1987).
I hate centipedes! I dislike them, detest them, am repulsed and nauseated at the very mention of them. Even with all my love for God's lovely creatures, centipedes have never managed to crawl their way into my heart. Centipedes are said to be beneficial arthropods in the sense that they eat small bugs around the house such as bedbugs, flies, moths, roaches, silverfish, spiders and termites. In fact, it's a good thing if you have centipedes in your garden as centipedes guttle root-feeding insect grub. But you know what? I would much rather have cockroaches and moths in the house than centipedes, because it is much easier to get rid of all the other insects and they do not mortify me! Not only is it very difficult to kill a centipede, I usually am terrified that it will bite me and I will fall dead right at the spot. Any way, in reality centipede bites are not fatal at all, only terribly painful for a period of say 2 to 3 days. Besides, centipedes do not bite or attack humans without sufficient provocation. As penned by Jerome Goddard in his book called the "Physician's Guide to Arthropods of Medical Importance", Most human centipede bites result when a centipede is stepped on, picked up, or otherwise contacts the body.
So, how do centipedes bite exactly? Well, centipedes have a unique pair of pincers or legs resembling claws called 'forcipules'. These forcipules, which in soothe are nothing but the modified extremities of the first pair of limbs located immediately behind the head of the insect, help the centipede to pierce the human hide. After that, they draw poison from the venom pouches, placed at the base of these toxicognaths, and administer the venom into the body of their unfortunate prey. The good thing is that centipede bites are never fatal as nothing less than the accumulated venom extracted from 1,000 poison glands of centipedes can kill an average adult human being. Besides, the United States have never recorded a single adult death caused simply by the bite of a centipede. So, that should act as some kind of consolation for myriopodophobes like me. But, nevertheless you ought to know what is to be done if you are bitten by these uniquely endowed arthropods. Let us begin with what to expect in cases of centipede bites.
Centipede Bite Symptoms
To begin with, centipede bite marks resemble snakebite marks in the way that two tiny puncture marks are seen at the spot. Other than that, you will also notice a series of very painful blisters near the puncture marks. These will tell you the exact area where the insect had moved on your skin, say while climbing up or scurrying away. Generally, the symptoms are of two types: localized and systemic.
Localized Symptoms
  • Rippling pain
  • Redness
  • Focalized inflammation
  • Abnormal skin tingling, tickling, itching, or burning sensations
  • Inflamed and painful lymph nodes (lymphangitis)
  • Abnormal redness of the skin
  • Acute itching
  • A non-amplifying localized death of living cells
Except for the last symptom which takes about a few weeks to heal, all the others generally disappear within the first 2 - 3 days after the bite.
Systemic Symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Giddiness
  • Headache
  • Heightened blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Palpitations
  • Weakness
By large, this is the maximum extent to which a centipede can harm you. However, this is the case scenario for normal adults. Centipede stings can have graver outcomes in case the victim is an infant or even a young child for that matter. For instance, there was a case of a young girl from Philippines who succumbed to death exactly 29 hours after she was bitten on her head by a large Vietnamese Giant Centipede, scientifically called Scolopendra subspinipes which, as indicated by centipede facts, can attain a fully grown size of up to 19 - 23 centimeters.
Also, adults who are naturally hyper-sensitized or allergic to stings injected by bees are at a risk of suffering from a condition known as an anaphylactic shock if attacked by one of the larger breeds of centipedes. In such a case, the person suffers from a condition where the sudden constriction of his bronchioles nearly asphyxiates the individual along with the fact that the lips, tongue, and throat of the person also show drastic inflammatory tendencies. This process of fulminant stenosis may even prove to be fatal for such an individual if he is supremely hyper-sensitized. The smaller breeds of centipedes cannot pierce the thick skin of humans. Now let us move on to possible centipede bite cures.
Centipede Bite Treatment
Here are some of the things you should begin doing at home immediately after being pinched by a centipede.
  • Rinse the area extremely well using a soap.
  • If you see that the wounded area has some localized inflammation, then wrap some ice cubes in a wash cloth or handkerchief and then place it on the wound in order to assuage some of that mind-numbing pain.
  • Take a suitable acetaminophen so that the pain is harnessed to a degree where driving to a nearby health care center is possible. To harness intense itching, you can quickly dab some antihistaminic ointment like Benadryl or simply some calamine lotion or anusol.
Believe me, no matter how innocuous the bitten area looks, it is always better to get it medically checked in order to make everything sure. The development of a secondary infection or wound necrosis may be rare occurrences, but there are possibilities nevertheless. There are also some pre-hospital common Hawaiian home remedies that you can also try out. Given that centipede bites are extremely common in Hawaii, I have reasons to believe that these work.
  • Ask someone to crush some onion or a green papaya and immediately apply the pulp onto the bitten area.
  • Urea and ammonia are basic urine components which work to neutralize the acidity of the poison instantaneously. Therefore, collect a little bit of your urine and topically apply it.
  • If you apply some meat tenderizer on the spot, a drastic palliation of the pain and inflammation will take place.
  • Aloe vera is known to alleviate the painful sensation caused by burns and cuts and it actually does wonders when used to palliate the pain of a centipede bite. Just cut a stem from the aloe vera plant and squeeze out the gel onto the wound. You will notice that the pain disappears in a matter of 5 - 7 minutes and the area does not swell up at all.
Some people also say that if you capture and kill a centipede that has just bitten you, drop it into a bottle of alcohol and then apply that same alcohol on the wound, it immediately heals. But since I do not know how much this works, I will not recommend it.
Before you call for help, make sure you have the following information at hand:
  • The affected person's age, weight, and current physical condition
  • The approximate time of the bite
  • The body part where the person has been bitten
  • Allergies the affected person has, if any
  • The type of centipede, if possible
Having all this information will only expedite the process of providing medical assistance in a more systematic and effective manner.
Once you are in the hospital, these are the treatments that should be given to you.
  • The wound must be rewashed with an aseptic agent.
  • You must be asked to get a urine test done. This will help the doctors to check for proteinuria, which in turn will help to test for any tendencies of speedy disintegration of skeletal muscle tissue or rhabdomyolysis.
  • Next, an EKG must also be conducted so that any possibility of abnormal changes of muscle contractions in the heart as well as vapospasms that can lead to unwanted vasoconstriction can be immediately tracked.
  • Anodynes or locally injected anesthesia, like lidocaine for pain relief, antihistamines to harness allergic tendencies, anti-inflammatory drugs of non-steroidal nature, and anxiolytes must be administered to you without any delay.
  • Tetanus toxoid vaccination must be updated mandatorily.
  • Also, the doctors must check for any indication of a condition called compartment syndrome, wherein the compression of nerves, blood vessels, and muscles takes place inside an enclosed area within the body. Loss of tissue is a usual outcome of this syndrome, if not tapped in time. So, in case the doctors identify anything of this sort, you will most probably be given a diuretic on the elevation of your limb.
After all this, you will be kept under observation for a minimum of 4 - 5 hours. During this time, the doctors will try to detect the development of either skin necrosis or any other secondary infection. Even though these two are extremely rare occurrences, you never know whether you can develop it. In case you show any signs of infection or sphacelus, then you will be given broad-spectrum antibiotics as well as sound conservative wound care.
How to Kill Centipedes?
Even though you will not die from a centipede bite, there is no need to get bitten at all, right? So, in that case, you just have to get rid of the centipedes in your house either by killing them or simply by driving them away. Here are some things you can do to keep centipedes away.
Bang Them to Death: If you have a hunch that there is a centipede within your walls, always keep a huge, bulky shoe handy. Remember, you will only have one chance of killing it as they are extremely quick in getting away. Once you see one, just pound it to death. Hit it at least three to four times to terminate it completely. DO NOT step on it. Chances are you will get stung. Also, centipedes generally do not travel in numbers, unless you are in Hawaii. The case scenario there is completely different. So, dealing with just one of them may mean that you have killed the sole resident centipede of your abode.
Drive Out Dampness: Remember, centipedes thrive in dank, moist corners. So, employ dehumidifiers to keep all the segments of your house dry. This will dehydrate any centipede in your attic or basement and kill it. Always swipe out the water from the bathroom floor to keep it dry at all times and coat the upper portion of the toilet drain with chalk or charcoal or any other calcium oxide product to keep the area dry every night before going to bed.
Exterminate all Other Insects: Kill en massé bedbugs, roaches, silverfish, termites, and all other common household bugs that centipedes usually feast on. This will urge your resident crawly to move elsewhere lock, stock, and barrel!
Repair and Caulk Cracks and Slits: If you seal off all stealthy entry points of centipedes, such as foundation and wall slits and cracks, and mend loose floor tiles and boards, you will lessen the invasion possibility to a great degree.
Employ Traps and Insecticides: You can easily buy those sticky insect traps from the local hardware store and leave them in corners and hidden places where centipedes generally hide and prey. You can also use superfine desiccant insecticides like Drione dust to cake all areas where an unsuspecting centipede is likely to crawl during his hunting spree. Desiccant insecticides will kill a centipede by drying out its body moisture. Squirt powerful pesticides on all the sides of your house to discourage centipedes to come anywhere near where you live. Spraying boric acid up to 3 feet on the outer side of your house walls and generously around the perimeter of your abode will help. Cover drains well.
Finally, always keep your house uncluttered, clean, and moisture-free. If you know that there is a centipede in your house, do not keep clothes or books lying around on the floor as they will only serve as hiding places for these eerie creatures. Wear slippers at all times and opt for gloves when working in the garden. Do not try to pick up a centipede and definitely refrain from screaming at the sight of a centipede no matter how badly you are tempted. If you scream, the centipede will get scared as well and scurry away to its hiding place before you can blink your eye. If you cannot tackle a centipede infestation even after all this, just move out for a few days and let a professional pest control team take care of your situation. Remember, you have to remain vigilant to avoid centipede bites at all times in order to keep yourself and your family safe from centipedes at all costs.