Treat your jellyfish sting right away to help reduce pain
Getting stung by a jellyfish for the first time can be a very traumatic event. There are things that you can do to help you or someone you know that was stung. Here is some expert advice for the first aid of a jellyfish sting to help reduce the pain, deactivate the stingers, and treat the affected area.
- apply white vinegar to affected areas
- wash affected areas with salt water
- apply corticosteroid cream (hydrocortisone)
- take anti-inflammatory medication
- take an oral non-sedating antihistamine
- forget to remove any nematocysts
- rinse the affected areas with tap or fresh water
- forget to have an EpiPen
- forget to bring a jellyfish sting kit
Do apply white vinegar to affected areas
Applying white vinegar to the affected areas will help neutralize the jellyfish venom. After you rinse the area with vinegar, if possible, soak the area in vinegar for 30 minutes. However, if you were stung in the eye, don’t rinse your eyes with vinegar and instead use a saline solution. If you were stung in the mouth, rinse your mouth with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water and then be sure to spit it out afterwards – don’t swallow.
Do wash affected areas with salt water
Wash the area with salt water so that any attached nematocysts do not rupture and release more venom. You can use sea water if you need to. Also, it is a myth that urinating on the wound will do anything but embarrass the parties involved.
Do apply corticosteroid cream (hydrocortisone)
To help relieve itch and reduce redness, which is inflammation, apply a corticosteroid cream like hydrocortisone to the affected area after you dry the area without applying too much pressure.
Do take anti-inflammatory medication
Take an anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen or Aspirin to help reduce the pain and inflammation. Follow the directions on the bottle for the amount you should take.
Do take an oral non-sedating antihistamine
For itching and swelling, take an oral non-sedating antihistamine like Allegra, Zyrtec, Claritin or Benadryl.
Do not forget to remove any nematocysts
Nematocysts are the stinging cells on the tentacles. You need to make sure you remove any of the remaining nematocysts on the skin. Carefully take a stick or tweezers to accomplish this action. Do not use your hands to avoid stinging your fingers.
Do not rinse the affected areas with tap or fresh water
Washing the area with tap or fresh water will cause more venom to be released from any stinging cells (nematocysts) still attached to the skin. Use salt water and vinegar only.
Do not forget to have an EpiPen
For severe reactions, make sure you have an EpiPen available for severe reactions, especially if you experience symptoms of shock and where immediate medical help is not available. The rare box jellyfish sting is particularly dangerous and if you are stung by one of these you need seek immediate medical help. Symptoms of shock include shortness of breath, decreased blood pressure, dizziness, and nausea.
Do not forget to bring a jellyfish sting kit
A jellyfish sting kit includes white vinegar, antihistamine, hydrocortisone, ibuprofen, EpiPen with you. Climatic and environmental changes may lead to more jellyfish encounters in certain geographical areas. With more people enjoying salt water activities, one should be vigilant for the possibility of jellyfish stings.
Do not panic
Whatever you do, don’t panic. Panicking in any type emergency situation can potentially exacerbate symptoms of shock and is never a good idea in general. Take deep breaths and follow the above advice.
The most important thing to do is to wash the affected area with vinegar and salt water, and then remove the nematocysts. If you experience any symptoms of shock, or anything out of the ordinary, consult with a medical specialist immediately.