Dealing with a jellyfish sting: first aid and treatment

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Most sea creature stings are not serious and can be treated with first aid. But sometimes you may need immediate medical advice. In this article, learn how to deal with a jellyfish sting, and how to treat and prevent it.

Jellyfish sting

Jellyfish sting

What is jellyfish

Jellyfish is a type of marine invertebrate, that is, it does not contain gills or a backbone, and it absorbs oxygen from the water through membranes. Jellyfish live in the oceans, where there are about 2000 A well-known species of jellyfish in the oceans, which come in different shapes, sizes, and colors and are often semi-transparent.

Jellyfish have tiny stinging cells in their tentacles to stun or paralyze their prey before they eat it. Jellyfish stings can be painful for humans and sometimes very dangerous. However, the latter do not intentionally attack humans. Most stings happen when some people accidentally touch jellyfish.

The body of jellyfish generally consists of six basic parts, including the following:

  • The epidermis that protects the internal organs
  • The gastric dermis, which is the innermost layer
  • The mesoglia, or midgut, is between the epidermis and the stomach
  • The gastrointestinal cavity, which functions as the esophagus, stomach and intestines in one
  • An opening that serves as a mouth and anus
  • Tentacles line the edge of the body

Jellyfish sting

A jellyfish sting may look like a rash or swelling with red, purple, or brown spots. The symptoms of jellyfish stings depend on the type of jellyfish that stung you. If you had a minor jellyfish sting, you might feel:

  • Dull pain radiating to the leg or arm
  • Itch
  • heartburn
  • palpitation

More severe jellyfish stings may cause the following symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing
  • pain in chest
  • Muscle pain or spasm
  • skin blisters
  • numbness or tingling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • difficulty swallowing
  • Reduction of Blood pressure
  • Arrhythmia
  • headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)

Types of jellyfish stings

Contact with claws

You may come into contact with nematocysts or jellyfish tentacles when you swim in the ocean or walk on the beach. This contact can cause the jellyfish to inject its venom into your body.

Contact with separate jellyfish parts

A sting occurs when the jellyfish’s tentacles come into contact, as stinging cells (called nematocysts) release venom into the skin. The severity of the sting depends on the type of jellyfish.

Secondary stings from nematocysts in water

Contact occurs between the stinging cells of jellyfish and the human body when swimming in the sea or ocean, or when walking on the beach. This contact may cause the injection of poison from the nematocysts into the body.

Also read: Malaria: How does mosquito bite cause threatening symptoms to human health?

Jellyfish sting symptoms and reactions

The severity of jellyfish sting symptoms depends on the type of jellyfish you were exposed to and how sensitive your body to the venom is.

Local pain, redness and swelling

The affected area often has redness (rash) and swelling, along with a burning and stinging sensation on the skin.

Itching and rash

If a jellyfish sting is minor, a person may feel mild pain, itching, burning, throbbing, or tingling and numbness at the site of the sting.

Allergic reactions and anaphylaxis in severe cases

In severe cases, blisters can appear, muscle cramps, abdominal pain, and excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis). Medications can help reduce pain and swelling. But in cases of severe reactions, you should consult a doctor.

First aid for jellyfish stings

1. Rinse with sea water

It is necessary to rinse the affected area with sea water (not fresh water), as some suggest studies That fresh water may aggravate the situation.

2. Remove the tentacles or stingers

Any spines should be removed from the skin using tweezers, a glove or an assistive tool, taking care to avoid the use of hands.

3. Hot water immersion or cold compress

This is done by soaking the area in very warm water (as hot as it can be tolerated) for at least 30 minutes. Hot towels can also be used if you cannot soak the area in water.

4. Pain relief and anti-itching measures

You can take some painkillers or ointments that relieve pain and swelling, calm the skin and reduce inflammation. An ice pack can also be an effective treatment for the symptoms of a jellyfish sting, including pain, swelling, and itching. Make sure to place a cloth between the ice pack and your skin, and apply the ice for no more than 15 minutes to prevent frostbite.

5. Seek medical attention when necessary

First aid can reduce the severity of pain from jellyfish stings, prevent worsening of systemic symptoms, and reduce the risk of complications (including infection).

Once first aid is given, medications can help reduce pain and swelling. But severe reactions often need medical intervention.

Jellyfish sting treatment

Giving antitoxins

More serious jellyfish stings are treated with medication. Medications your health care provider may use include:

  • Pain relievers that can help reduce pain.
  • Anti-toxin, which in turn reverses the effects of the toxin.
  • Antihistamines Antihistamines help reduce itching and rashes.

Pain relief and wound care

To help relieve the pain, lotions can be applied to the jellyfish sting. An ice pack or hot water can also be used to help reduce pain and swelling.

Reducing allergic reactions

Anaphylaxis is treated as a medical emergency, as treatment begins with injections of drugs that help relax the airways so that the victim can breathe easily and tighten blood vessels to increase blood pressure.

After that, you may be given oxygen, intravenous fluids, and medications such as antihistamines to improve breathing and stop the allergic response.

Tetanus prevention and infection prevention

Skin symptoms caused by jellyfish stings, such as blisters, bruises, rashes and spots, etc., can use alkaline drugs and topical ointments, or take small doses of oral analgesics and steroid hormones to prevent inflammation. It should be noted that these treatments must be in accordance with the necessary medical guidelines.

prevention of Jellyfish sting

The following techniques can help reduce the risk of being stung by a jellyfish:

  • Before swimming, ask the lifeguards if there are any jellyfish around the beach. (Some beaches fly a jellyfish warning flag.)
  • If you are surfing or diving in the ocean, wear a protective suit.
  • You should avoid touching jellyfish that have washed up on the beach.

Frequently asked questions that may interest you

How long do jellyfish stings last?

Most jellyfish stings get better within a few hours. But in some cases, some stings can lead to a rash that can persist for weeks. After the rash clears up, it may leave a permanent scar from a jellyfish sting. Contact your doctor if you feel itching at the bite site after a few weeks.

Read also: Bedbugs or bed bugs: their appearance, symptoms, and how to get rid of them

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