We hope you are enjoying your summer and getting to the beach to relax. Along with going to the beach in the summer and taking a dip in the ocean you need to be aware of jellyfish. Every year approximately 150 million people are exposed to jellyfish around the globe. Along with this a few hundred thousand around the globe are stung by jellyfish.
Jellyfish use their sting to capture prey and act as a defense mechanism. When their tentacles encounter a human or other sort of prey they reach out and fire out harpoon-like structures containing a neurotoxic venom. It will paralyze their prey but in the case of us lowly humans it will just really hurt.
If you haven’t been or have and didn’t know what to do, here is some help.
Jellyfish stings are relatively common problems for people swimming, wading or diving in seawaters. The long tentacles trailing from the jellyfish body can inject you with venom from thousands of microscopic barbed stingers.
Jellyfish stings vary greatly in severity. Most often they result in immediate pain and red, irritated marks on the skin. Some jellyfish stings may cause more whole-body (systemic) illness. And in rare cases jellyfish stings are life-threatening.
Most jellyfish stings get better with home treatment. Severe reactions require emergency medical care.
Common signs and symptoms of jellyfish stings include:
Burning, prickling, stinging pain
Red, brown or purplish tracks on the skin — a “print” of the tentacles’ contact with your skin
Throbbing pain that radiates up a leg or an arm
Severe jellyfish stings can affect multiple body systems. These reactions may appear rapidly or several hours after the stings. Signs and symptoms of severe jellyfish stings include:
Stomach pain, nausea and vomiting
Muscle pain or spasms
Weakness, drowsiness, fainting and confusion
The severity of your reaction depends on:
The type and size of the jellyfish
Your age, size and health, with severe reactions more likely in children and people in poor health
How long you were exposed to the stingers
How much of your skin is affected
How it happens
Jellyfish tentacles contain microscopic barbed stingers. Each stinger has a tiny bulb that holds venom and a coiled, sharp-tipped tube. The jellyfish uses the venom to protect itself and kill prey.
When you brush against a tentacle, tiny triggers on its surface release the stingers. The tube penetrates the skin and releases venom. It affects the immediate area of contact and may enter the bloodstream.
Jellyfish that have washed up on a beach may still release venomous stingers if touched.
Types of jellyfish
While many types of jellyfish are relatively harmless to humans, some can cause severe pain and are more likely to cause a systemic reaction. These jellyfish cause more-serious problems in people:
Box jellyfish. Box jellyfish can cause intense pain. Life-threatening reactions — although rare — are more common with this type. The more dangerous species of box jellyfish are in the warm waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans.
Portuguese man-of-war. Also called bluebottle jellyfish, Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish live mostly in warmer seas. This type has a blue or purplish gas-filled bubble that keeps it afloat on the water and acts as a sail.
Sea nettle. Common in both warm and cool seawaters, sea nettles live along the northeast coast of the United States and are abundant in the Chesapeake Bay.
Lion’s mane jellyfish. These are the world’s largest jellyfish, with a body diameter of more than 3 feet (1 meter). They’re most common in cooler, northern regions of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Conditions that increase your risk of getting stung by jellyfish include:
Swimming at times when jellyfish appear in large numbers (a jellyfish bloom)
Swimming or diving in jellyfish areas without protective clothing
Playing or sunbathing where jellyfish are washed up on the beach
Swimming in a place known to have many jellyfish
Possible complications of a jellyfish sting include:
Delayed hypersensitivity reaction, causing blisters, rash or other skin irritations one to two weeks after the sting
Irukandji syndrome, which causes chest and stomach pain, high blood pressure and heart problems
The following tips can help you avoid jellyfish stings:
Wear a protective suit. When swimming or diving in areas where jellyfish stings are possible, wear a wet suit or other protective clothing. Diving stores sell protective “skin suits” or “stinger suits” made of thin, high-tech fabric. Consider protective footwear as stings can also occur while wading in shallow water.
Get information about conditions. Talk to lifeguards, local residents or officials with a local health department before swimming or diving in coastal waters, especially in areas where jellyfish are common.
Avoid water during jellyfish season. Stay out of the water when jellyfish numbers are high.
The good news is that while they can be painful, jellyfish stings are very rarely life-threatening, and they’re easily treatable
If stung by a jellyfish
Get out of the water
If you’ve been stung, return to dry land as soon as possible to avoid getting stung again.
Don’t rinse off the affected area with drinking water It could increase the pain. The nematocysts in the cells that cause the sting will release more venom and cause more pain. First, rinse with saltwater and try not touch the affected area with your bare hands.
Peeing on the sting does nothing – The origins of the urination-theory are unknown, but it was popularized by a Friends episode where Chandler pees on Monica. Don’t believe everything you see on television though, because it’s a total myth. Peeing on your jellyfish sting does nothing.
Dousing the infected area with vinegar or acetic acid to immediately relieve pain.
The Red Cross recommends removing remaining tentacles with a “blunt object.” After rinsing the area with sea water, apply hot water or a hot pack “as hot as the patient can tolerate for 20 minutes” or until pain is relieved. If more serious symptoms get to a dr.