How to deal with a jellyfish sting

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A jellyfish sting can occur if an individual is directly exposed to its tentacles. The tentacles are laden with sacs or nematocysts filled with venom which can trigger painful to dangerous reactions.

What are the indications?

In most cases, the usual symptoms of a jellyfish sting include the following:

  • Intense, stinging pain
  • Rashes
  • Itchiness
  • Elevated skin welts

The progressive effects of a jellyfish sting might include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Numbness and tingling sensations
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle spasms

In cases of severe reactions, it can result to difficulty breathing, coma and even death. If an individual was stung by a box jellyfish or other venomous species, it can result to death in just minutes.

jellyfish sting
For pain relief, pain medications can be given.

Management of a jellyfish sting

  • If an individual was stung by a box jellyfish, it is vital to seek prompt medical care. While awaiting the emergency team, flush the site of the sting with vinegar and keep it still. In case not close to medical care, the sting site and tentacles must be drenched for 10 minutes or longer before attempting to remove them. If the sting site is on the legs or arms, place a pressure dressing to slow down the spread of the venom. Just be careful not to apply too tightly that circulation is disrupted.
  • For other cases of jellyfish sting, soak or rinse the site in vinegar for 15-30 minutes to prevent the nematocysts from releasing venom. In case vinegar is not available, flush in sea water or 70% isopropyl alcohol. Avoid using fresh water since this can trigger the nematocysts to release venom. In addition, do not brush or pour ice or hot water on the site.
  • Get rid of the tentacles using a twig or tweezers. Use gloves if available.
  • Apply a paste of baking soda or shaving cream on the site of the jellyfish sting. Both can prevent the nematocysts that were not activated from releasing venom during removal. Shave the site using a razor or credit card to get rid of any leftover nematocysts. Reapply alcohol or vinegar.
  • For pain relief, pain medications can be given.
  • In case the individual ceases to breathe and has no pulse rate, CPR should be carried out.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a jellyfish sting is for learning purposes only. Learn to properly care for the sting by taking a standard first aid course with Victoria First Aid.

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