First Aid

Usefulness of a Venom Extractor in First Aid

There are innumerable creatures crawling around out there that are capable of delivering a nasty venomous bite or sting. Some of these are deadly, others just annoying. But whatever the potency of the venom, the side effects are always unpleasant.

However, there is hope for those injected with venom. There exists a device called a venom extractor that can, in some instances, remove venom and prevent or reduce its effects. Venom extractors can make a great addition to a first aid kit, especially if you live in an area where stinging insects, scorpions, and snakes are common.

How Does it Work?

Venom extractor designs vary, but they all operate on the same principle; suction. The extractor is placed over a bite or sting. Then it produces a vacuum. The contents of the wound, including venom, rush into the extractor in an attempt to fill the vacuum.
The base of a venom extractor is often a long tube with a plunger. The open end of the tube is placed around the wound while the plunger is compressed. Then, once the open end is secure, the plunger is pulled back out, hopefully taking the venom with it into the tube.

Are They Effective?

The effectiveness of a venom extractor varies depending on several variables.

  • Depth. If the venom was injected just barely into the skin and tissue, it will come out much more eaily than if it were injected deep into flesh by fangs.
  • Potency Some venoms that are weaker seem to be more susceptable to extraction. For instance, venom from a bee sting canĀ  be extracted much more easily than the venom of a rattlesnake.
  • Time. The sooner the extractor is used, the better. If the venom has had time to spread and saturate the muscle tissue, you won’t be able to remove very much.

So, depending on the circumstances, a venom extractor can be anywhere from extremely effective to having little or no use at all. It seems best used to treat shallow insect stings quickly. In a pinch, though, it may be used on a more serious bite like one from a snake.

Take care that you never substitute medical care for a venom extractor. It is not a life saving device, though if it removes even a few drops of deadly venom, that can make a huge difference. If you or anyone are bit by a highly venomous animal, you should seek professional help immediately.

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