Know What To Do If A Jelly Fish Stings You!

When planning a vacation to the beach, we often have countless things to organize and pack for; especially if you have children. Mentally preparing yourself for the “what ifs” of jellyfish stings might not make it to the top of your list. But do not worry, we have you covered in this quick blog about what to do if you or someone you know gets stung.

While enjoying a relaxing and fun time in the ocean, it can be easy to miss seeing a jellyfish floating near you until you feel it. Jellyfish are peaceful creatures that do not intentionally attack swimmers. The stings happen usually when, by chance, we drift into one another by accident. Sometimes when we are stung, we do not even see the culprit, but we certainly will notice the symptoms.

Signs That You Have Been Stung

Whilst still in the water, you may actually feel the sting when it happens with the sensation of sharp pain. The pain may be followed by redness and inflammation at the site of the sting. Sometimes welts, or blisters accompanied by a rash localized to the affected area may also occur. In some cases, a person may experience nausea and itching as well.

Most cases result in localized symptoms, however occasionally someone may have a more serious reaction called anaphylaxis, which is a medical emergency and necessitates the need to call 911 or to quickly proceed to the nearest emergency room. After a sting, signs of this emergency may include:

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Swelling of the lips and/or tongue
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty breathing

If you or the victim experience any of these symptoms it is critical to seek emergency help.

Steps To Take in a Non-Emergency Sting Situation

Once you have established that a sting has occurred and there are no signs of anaphylaxis, here are the steps to take to care for the affected area on your own.

  • Rinse the site with seawater to wash away any remaining venom. Avoid rubbing the area.
  • If you are no longer near seawater, you may rinse it with vinegar instead.
  • If you see any tentacles on your skin, gently remove them with tweezers. Avoid touching them.
  • Soak the affected area in warm to hot water for 20 minutes. Then apply an ice pack for twenty minutes on and off as needed.
  • Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone lotion twice daily for up to 7-10 days.
  • If not contraindicated, take an over-the-counter antihistamine as directed.
  • If not contraindicated, you may take an over-the-counter pain reliever as directed.
  • Remember you have the option to see your health care provider if you are not feeling better and seeing improvement or are worsening even when taking the above steps.

Most cases of jellyfish stings will show improvement withing a few hours, however it is important to remember that the skin irritation or rash that occurs with a sting can last for a few weeks.

After a sting, there are a few things that we do NOT recommend doing. These include:

  • Rinsing the sting area with urine
  • Cleansing the area with alcohol
  • Cleansing the area with hydrogen peroxide

Applying these substances to a sting site may cause worsening pain and irritation and have not been shown to be helpful.

Now that you know what to do if a jellyfish stings you, go ahead and enjoy your summer trip to the beach!

Come and See The Derm NP!

As a Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner, The Derm NP is available to answer skin care questions that you may have. For example, if you have acne, or sensitive skin, we are ready to consult with you on sunscreen options that may most meet your needs. Or, maybe you are looking for options to offer the best anti-aging benefits for your skin. For just $37 for a telehealth visit, you can rest assured that you are getting skincare advice from an expert without breaking the bank. Contact us at (630) 233-9767 or thedermnp@thedermnp.com for an appointment anytime!

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