Being prepared in the wilderness: Catfish sting

A catfish sting is characterized by intense pain and evident inflammation at the site of the sting. It is important to note that catfish have protruding whiskers around the mouth. They are usually found in lakes, muddy rivers and beaches in subtropical, tropical and temperate waters.

Even though they are not aggressive, an individual might end up with a catfish sting if exposed while fishing or bathing, usually by stepping on it. Remember that both fresh and salt-water catfish are dangerous with 3 spines and a stinging apparatus.

How to manage a catfish sting

  • Submerge the sting site in hot water as tolerated by the individual to alleviate the pain.
  • The spines should be removed using tweezers.
    Catfish sting

    Even though they are not aggressive, an individual might end up with a catfish sting if exposed while fishing or bathing, usually by stepping on it.

  • The wound must be scrubbed and irrigated using fresh water.
  • Avoid taping or sewing the wound together.
  • Oral antibiotics can be given for a catfish sting that is at risk for infection. These should be taken if the infection develops at least 5 days after all indications have settled. It is important to note that possible drug reactions or allergies must be checked before antibiotics are started. The doctor might recommend the suitable antibiotic. Take note that some might trigger sensitivity to the sun, thus a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 is also recommended if such antibiotics are used.
  • The pain linked with a catfish sting can be relieved using acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

When to seek medical attention

  • Always bear in mind that medical care must be sought as soon as possible after an individual ends up with a catfish sting.
  • A doctor must be consulted regarding treatment using medications.

Follow-up care

The doctor will clean the wound site and even provide a tetanus shot if needed.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on a catfish sting is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to animal bites and stings including a catfish sting, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are located in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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