JellyFish Facts

Jellyfish First Aid

Jellyfish First Aid picture

Jellyfish First Aid

The marine world is densely populated with Jellyfish. Though they are basically harmless and don't attack human beings, they have stingers that help protect them and procure food. These stingers are released when they come in contact with human flesh. While they are normally not harmful for humans and are usually not dangerous, you need to be aware of the first aid techniques needed to cope with jellyfish stings before you venture forth into jellyfish infested waters. You need to identify the species of jellyfish that inhabit the area you are going to swim, surf or dive into, in order to be prepared with the appropriate remedies specific to the species.

People react differently to jellyfish stings depending on the species and the location. However, all jellyfish stings have one thing in common - they are very painful for the first one hour. The symptoms are varied and often include a rash where the sting happens. The rash is usually very itchy and is accompanied by a mild burning sensation. Other symptoms may be nausea, headaches, weakness, dizziness, cramps, chest pains, hyperventilation and severe vomiting. The rash can take up to hours, days or even weeks to clear, depending on the species of jellyfish. It can also leave a permanent scar, especially if it's not treated immediately.

One of the most dangerous for human beings is the sting of the Box jellyfish. Medical treatment must be sought as soon as you are stung by a Box jellyfish as the consequences can be fatal otherwise. A Box jellyfish sting can lead to cardiovascular collapse accompanied by respiratory failure and neuromuscular paralysis that can kill you.

The following first aid steps must be followed until medical help arrives, for most jellyfish stings:
  • Bathe the sting immediately with vinegar. This helps deactivate any nematocysts that get lodged under the skin.
  • Do not rub the sting as this will make the embedded nematocysts release their venom, further aggravating the symptoms of the sting.
  • In the absence of vinegar, sea water can also be used to clean the sting and attendant rash. Fresh water must be avoided as this can result in the embedded nematocysts releasing their venom.
  • The tentacles of a jellyfish must never be touched. If there are any tentacles attached to the skin, you need to wear gloves before trying to remove them with a pair of tweezers. Even when the tentacles are not attached to the jellyfish, the embedded nematocysts can still release their venom into your flesh.
  • Alternatively, you can use shaving cream or baking soda to apply to the sting. You can then use a sterilized razor to remove any nematocysts that may still be embedded in the skin.
  • You must avoid hampering blood circulation. Hence, do not tie the area of the sting under any circumstances. This can lead to an increase in the toxicity of the area, causing a great deal of damage, if not amputation.
  • Take painkillers if required.
  • Ensure your first aid kit contains creams and lotions that are available over the counter to treat minor, non-poisonous stings e.g. Safesea lotion, etc.
Find jellyfish sting protection and relief products on Ebay (best price) or your local diving supply store.

Learn more about Jellyfish Stings and Jellyfish Safety

Learn more about Jellyfish, different Jellyfish Species, general Jellyfish Information, Jellyfish Pets and Jellyfish Safety

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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