What part of venom actually hurts?


Other than the actual bite/sting, which is physical penetrating trauma, what’s the sting from a scorpionfish or bite from a snake hurt for sometimes hours after the event?

In: 2

Most venoms cause either cell death or nerve trauma, which is what causes the pain. The more the venom spreads, the more damage it causes, the more it hurst. Even the venoms that kill very quickly will still hurt the whole time you’re dying. 😬

Different venoms do different things, the worst I’ve seen (on telly) was cobra venom on blood. Turns it into a thick goo. Google it if you’re feeling brave !

So the thing that hurts with some venomous bites is it instantly coagulates your blood causing your muscles in that area to not get oxygen and in some case feel like it’s dying instantly.


Venom is full of proteins that do different things depending on the type of venom. Since you’re asking about pain, let’s talk about *algesic* venom, which means venom that causes pain or increases your sensitivity to pain.

You sense pain through nerves called *nociceptors* which are nerves sensitive to stimuli that damage your cells and your body. This would be thinks like cutting your flesh, excessive pressure, high heat, etc. Algesic venom proteins fit like a key into certain receptors in your nerves and turn them on directly. It’s like how your fire alarm senses smoke, but there’s a button you can push that turns in on for testing. The venom proteins are specially shaped to push that button and turn your nociceptors on directly, or else make them *super* sensitive so that, say, your own body heat is enough to set it off.

Other venom proteins cause pain indirectly. For example, there are venoms that increase your blood pressure and cause your blood to coagulate and congeal. Your heart keeps trying to pump the blood, which forces blood to keep flowing into that part of your body and swell up. The pressure can cause blood vessels to burst and blood to spill into surrounding tissue. The damage and the pressure will cause nociceptors to fire.

Still other venoms are designed to paralyze the victim, which can cause *all* nerves to fire – not just your nociceptors, but the nerves that carry signals to your muscles. With all of the nerves firing all the time, your muscles can’t coordinate so they just seize up and you can’t move. The side-effect is that the venom may not discriminate to turn on your motor nerves, so they turn on all the nerves related to sensing your environment, including all your nociceptors.