Centipedes are an insect of the Chilopoda class. Over 20 families and 3,000 species of centipedes have been found worldwide. Most centipedes that the average person will encounter are non-aggressive, with a few notable exceptions, and only bite when they feel threatened.
A centipede's bite is painful, due in part to a pair of venomous tipped claws located directly beneath its head, which is used to inject venom into its prey. This causes localised swelling and redness at the site of the bite, and may lead to numbness of the area around the bite. Small puncture wounds, as a result of the claws, may be perceptible.
Most centipede bites do not cause significant harm to a person. The pain factor, as well as symptoms and appearance of a centipede bite have been compared that of a bee sting. Larger centipedes produce larger, more painful bites.
Children, the elderly, and those with allergies to other insect venom are at a higher risk for having a severe adverse reaction to a centipede bite.
Centipede bites should be washed thoroughly with soap and water. A cold compress may be used in intervals of 10 minutes to reduce swelling at the site.
If a severe allergic reaction is noted, emergency medical attention may be required. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, severe swelling of the lymph nodes or lymphatic system, trouble breathing and headaches.