Merck Manual

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Centipede and Millipede Bites

By

Robert A. Barish

, MD, MBA, University of Illinois at Chicago;


Thomas Arnold

, MD,

  • Professor and Chairman
  • Department of Emergency Medicine, LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport
  • Medical Director
  • Lousiana Poison Center

Last full review/revision Apr 2020| Content last modified Apr 2020
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Topic Resources

Some 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 a 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 irrigated immediately.

Tetanus prophylaxis should be given (see table Tetanus Prophylaxis in Routine Wound Management).

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