To many people, centipedes look frightening. Their bodies are long and they have a lot of legs legs. It's easy to believe that there could be a poisonous centipede.
Centipedes are predators. They eat insects, earthworms, slugs, and spiders. They have special claws that they use to grab their prey. The claws are connected to venom glands. The centipedes use the venom to paralyze their prey.
Centipedes sometimes bite people when they try to pick the centipedes up. More often, the person picks up or moves an item that the centipede is using as a hiding place. Sometimes people are bitten when they are dressing or putting on boots or shoes.
There are two factors that affect the person's reaction to a centipede bite – the size of the centipede and the person's sensitivity. Small children, elderly people, and people who have been ill may have a more serious reaction than mature, healthy people.
Some centipedes are very small. These may not be able to break a person's skin with their bite. The person might only receive a scratch.
Larger centipedes may be able to break a person's skin. The giant tropical centipedes can easily break a person's skin. Most people feel sharp pain immediately. The pain sometimes seems to spread out from the bite site. There is usually redness and some swelling. Itching is also common for many people. For most people, these symptoms disappear in a few hours.
Some people who are bitten by a centipede experience swelling and tenderness that lasts for a long time – several weeks in some cases. These people sometimes have sores at the bite sites.
A few people are allergic to the centipede venom. If a centipede bites one of these people, the reactions may include a headache, dizziness, nausea, or changes in blood pressure.
Experts recommend that a person who receives a centipede bite should wash the area with soap and water. Cold compresses can help reduce swelling and ease the pain. An anti-itching cream may help reduce the urge to scratch the bite.
A centipede bite victim should be observed closely. Sometimes allergic symptoms do not appear for an hour or more after the bite. If the victim shows signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction, seek medical attention.