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Centipede and Millipede Bites

by Robert A. Barish, MD, MBA, Thomas Arnold, MD

Some of the larger centipedes can inflict a painful bite, causing swelling and redness. Symptoms rarely persist for more than 48 hours. Millipedes do not bite but may secrete a toxin that is irritating, particularly when accidentally rubbed into the eye.

An ice cube wrapped in plastic and a thin cloth and placed on a centipede bite usually relieves the pain. Toxic secretions of millipedes should be washed from the skin with large amounts of soap and water. If a skin reaction develops, a corticosteroid cream should be applied. Eye injuries should be flushed with water (irrigated) immediately.