Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How Do You Relieve A Jellyfish Sting??

Many snowbirds are headed south to Florida or other warm locales to shake off this cold weather and soak up some sun and salt water. But there is danger in the water....

If you have ever spent time on a beach, you may have heard jellyfish warnings. A jellyfish is a harmless looking creature that packs a vicious punch.

A jellyfish has long, soft tentacles that contain a venom that is protein-based and hurts like crazy when a swimmer or barefoot beachcomber comes into contact with it. It is a sting that you will not forget if you experience it.

The following are some tips that will help if you have a collision with a jellyfish.

Watch for jellyfish warnings and heed them...

Bigger beaches will post jellyfish warnings when swarms of them are on the prowl. If you go into the water during a warning period, you are taking a big risk.

Watch for an allergic reaction...

While you are treating the jellyfish sting, be on the lookout for signs that you are allergic. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can result in death if not treated quickly. Anaphylactic shock is a quick and sometimes deadly drop in blood pressure caused by the allergy.

Some signs of Anaphylaxis are:



Tightening up of the throat, resulting in difficulty in breathing


If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately - you need quick medical attention.

Was it a Box Jellyfish?

Hopefully you were stung by a run-of-the-mill jellyfish, although it certainly won't feel like it. However, if you have reason to believe that you were attacked by a Box Jellyfish, call 911 immediately. Box Jellyfish are extremely poisonous and their sting can be deadly within minutes.

Remove the stingers and tentacles...

This part makes my skin crawl, but sometimes you will find that bits of stinger are still in the wound, along with parts of the tentacle on your skin. Gently remove the tentacle by rinsing with very, very hot water, if available. If not, you can use sea (salt) water, but never use fresh cool or warm water on the wound - it will make the sting hurt worse. If the water is fresh, it must be very hot!

Remove the stinger with a credit card and gently scrape it over the wound to remove the stinger. If you have access to shaving cream or a paste of baking soda and water, apply this to the wound before removing the stinger - this will keep any more poison from being released while the stinger is removed.

Relieve the pain....

Now that you have removed the tentacles and stinger and have determined that you are not having an allergic reaction, it's time to try and relieve your pain as much as possible.

You may have heard that human urine will relieve the pain of jellyfish sting, but this has been largely discredited. It does not contain enough acid. If you have access to white vinegar, flush the wound with it for 15-20 minutes, or soak it in the vinegar, if possible. Another option is to hold the wound under extremely hot, fresh water. This has been found to be effective if the water is between 105 and 120 degrees - the hotter, the more effective.

Another option is to use 70 percent isopropyl alcohol instead of vinegar. There are also commercial jellyfish sting remedies that are effective.

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are both fairly effective in relieving some of the pain.

Since prevention is the most effective treatment, use safe practices when playing on the beach and in the ocean. Wear shoes when walking along the beach and always watch where you are stepping. Better yet, practice restraint when jellyfish warnings are in effect and go shopping instead!

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