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.
Last full review/revision May 2013 by Robert A. Barish, MD, MBA; Thomas Arnold, MD