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Jellyfish Stings

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US Army First Aid Manual
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Appendix A: First Aid Case and Kits, Dressings, and Bandages
Appendix B: Rescue and Transportation Procedures
Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions
Appendix D: Digital Pressure
Appendix E: Decontamination Procedures
Appendix F: Glossary


Jellyfish are free floating dome-shaped creatures with long tentacles. The tentacles are two to four feet in length. Most jellyfish stings are accidental, and occur when swimmers and surfers swim into the dangling stinging tentacles, called nematocysts, which are small venom glands that contain small, sharp tubes that release the venom. Typical stings appear in linear lines or lines that swirl along the arms or legs, which makes sense given the fact that the tentacles float in the water.

The local reaction is intense redness to the area and raised bumps which can itch, but usually burn and hurt. In severe allergic reactions, swollen lymph nodes may occur. However, this is somewhat rare. Putting fresh water on affected areas is not advised, as this will increase the burning sensation caused by the venom. The area should be rinsed with salt water or vinegar, which deactivates the toxin. It is true that there is some benefit in urinating on the area, because the difference in pH decreases the burning. Although obviously not practical, in extreme situations where more conventional methods are not available, this may help. Over-the-counter pain medications can be helpful to decrease pain. Two Ibuprofen and two Acetaminophen at the same time can help decrease the pain. This can be taken every 8 hours. Stings rarely result in scarring, and individuals generally recover quite well. Reactions to Portuguese Man-of-War stings are far more severe, and will be discussed in the section on Man-of-War stings.

Jellyfish Sting Treatment

Healthcare Provider - Medical Treatment
Jellyfish stings are usually very benign as opposed to the box jellyfish, where close observation and monitoring is important. Topical Benadryl cream, topic hydrocortisone creams can be affective in relieving pain as well as itching. Many individuals do not even seek out treatment.

 

References

1. Auerbach; Invenomations From Jellyfish or Related Species




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