coughing - choking - breathing emergency

Jellyfish sting: Proper care measures

A jellyfish sting is likely to occur when spending time in the beach. It is important to note that jellyfish are free-swimming, gelatinous marine creatures that are non-aggressive but surrounded by tentacles capable of delivering stings.

The tentacles are enclosed with sacs (nematocysts) that are packed with venom that can trigger painful or even a serious sting.

What are the indications of a jellyfish sting?

  • Intense, stinging pain
  • Rashes
  • Itchiness
  • Elevated welts

The progressing effects of a jellyfish sting can include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, lymph node swelling, muscle spasms and numbness or tingling sensations.

The severe reactions can lead to difficulty breathing, coma and even death. Some species of jellyfish especially the box jellyfish or other poisonous types can lead to death in just minutes.

Jellyfish sting
The severe reactions can lead to difficulty breathing, coma and even death.

When to seek medical care

It is vital to seek immediate medical care if an individual with a jellyfish sting has the following:

  • Difficulty breathing, chest pain, difficulty swallowing or significant pain at the sting site.
  • If the individual was stung in the mouth with changes in the voice, swollen lips or tongue and difficulty swallowing.
  • Sting occurred to young children or the elderly.
  • If a jellyfish sting involves a wide area of the body, face or the genitals.
  • If the individual has continuous redness, itchiness, pain and swelling of the skin around the sting site, a doctor should be consulted.

The usual treatment measures that the doctor might provide include the following:

  • Pain medications
  • Diphenhydramine to reduce the itchiness
  • Topical or oral steroids to alleviate the itchiness and swelling
  • Antibiotics are prescribed if the individual develops cellulitis. These medications should be taken as directed.
  • If it has been longer than 10 years since the last tetanus shot of the individual, a booster shot might be given.

Disclaimer / More Information

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

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