JellyFish Facts

Prompt First Aid Treatment For Jellyfish Stings

Prompt First Aid Treatment For Jellyfish Stings picture

Prompt First Aid Treatment For Jellyfish Stings

Jellyfish are found worldwide, and are particularly fond of warm waters, as are human beings. It is when these two species come into contact that trouble can begin. Jellyfish are what might be termed passive hunters; they use stinging cells on their tentacles to subdue prey. They then use their tentacles to push the prey into their mouth. The tentacles on some jellyfish are very short, but other jellyfish have tentacles that can trail behind them for dozens of feet, and it is all too easy to inadvertently brush against them while swimming. Fine tentacles can be almost impossible to see in the water. Remember, too, that many jellyfish appear in swarms, driven inshore by storms or tides, and the cumulative stings from even relatively harmless jellyfish can pose serious health problems.

First Aid For Stings

When stung by jellyfish, the first reaction will usually be a burning skin rash. Very often the tentacles are still attached to the person's body and will continue to discharge venom. Use sea water to wash off the affected area - do not use fresh water as this will increase the level of pain. If vinegar or other acidic fluids such as lemonade are available, use these to flush the area as this will shut down the activity of the nematocysts, the stinging cells. Do not use urine on a jellyfish sting, it is totally ineffective as well as being disgusting.

Anyone helping to remove adhering tentacles should put on protective gloves first and use tweezers to carefully lift the tentacles off. At no time should the area be rubbed. Even after the tentacles have been removed, it will be likely that there are still nematocysts in the skin, and these should be taken off. Shaving cream, if available, or a paste made out of baking soda and water should be spread over the rash. Use a razor, credit card, or knife to gently scrape the skin to remove the stinging cells.

Further Treatment

Rashes that are the result of low-toxicity jellyfish can usually be taken care of by taking pain relievers and an antihistamine. Keep in mind, however, that an allergic reaction can occur from even a mild sting, and any signs of this - breathing difficulty, fainting, confusion - should be dealt with by medical professionals.

Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish, Box jellyfish, and Lions Mane jellyfish can also produce potentially lethal stings and should be treated as quickly as possible. Emergency services should be summoned if a sting from these jellyfish has been received, but first aid treatment should also begin before the ambulance arrives. The same treatments should be instituted: removing tentacles, flushing with vinegar, and shaving the area, but watch the person for signs of more serious problems such as shock, cardiac arrest, or respiratory failure.

If the person stung seems to be exhibiting symptoms of shock such as paleness, confusion, weak pulse, place them on their back with the feet elevated higher than the head. Use a blanket if they are cold, or provide shade if they are hot. Turn their head to the side in case of vomiting.

Respiratory failure or cardiac arrest should be treated with CPR immediately. Tilt the victim's head back and administer two breaths to the mouth (pinch the nose shut), after the breaths have been given, give 30 quick chest compressions. As soon as the chest compressions have been finished, return to the two breaths. If the person starts to breathe on their own, stop CPR, otherwise continue until emergency help arrives.

You can find first aid kits in the US or first aid supplies in Canada.

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

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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