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What to Do If You Get Stung By A Jellyfish

Jellyfish are fascinating creatures. Their translucent bodies, the dangling tentacles that float in their wake, and the graceful way in which they tread through the water can tantalize just about anyone who encounters them. But jellyfish are harmful as much as they are beautiful. They are notorious for delivering painful — and sometimes even fatal — stings. And given that they tend to situate themselves towards the surface of the ocean, people swimming or snorkeling in their territory are at risk of suffering from these painful stings.

If you’re gearing for a trip to the beach and want to be prepared in case you encounter a jellyfish, here’s everything you need to know:

What’s behind the jellyfish sting?

The infamous jellyfish sting lies within the cells on its tentacles. When those tentacles come into contact with you, the harpoon-like structures on the tentacles called nematocysts shoot out poison into your skin, resulting in shocking pain, redness, and blistering. The tentacles can only harm you if it comes in direct contact with your skin, so it’s best to wear a stinger suit or wet suit to prevent stings.

Depending on the type of jellyfish, the sting can vary in severity. Most jellyfish aren’t lethal, but species like the box jellyfish can generate stings that can kill humans in mere minutes.

What to do during a jellyfish encounter

Even if you’re curious as to what jellyfish looks like, you should still avoid areas where they are known to hang out to avoid the risk of stings. But in the event that you encounter one, don’t get too close. Even if it’s a beached and dying jellyfish, it’s still capable of delivering powerful stings. It’s easy to assume that they’re harmless, but they’re not.

If you see them swimming in the water, move away as calmly as you can. Most jellyfish only sting when provoked, so you should make it a point to stay calm.

What to do if you get stung

There’s standard protocol to follow in the event that you get stung by a jellyfish. You should first get out of the water as soon as possible without touching the affected area. Scratching it could only exacerbate the injury. You should then wash the sting site with warm saltwater to nip the stinging in the bud.

To remove the tentacles, use something sturdy like tweezers or sticks. Even credit cards can be useful in scraping gently across the skin to detach stuck tentacles. You should then clean and bandage the open sore and take antihistamines.

Contrary to what movies and television tell you, urinating on the sting is not an effective course of treatment, and neither is applying fresh water to the wound. You may try rinsing it with vinegar, but it might not always work. In some cases, it can even make the stinging worse.

You should also keep in mind that if the stung area affects more than half an arm or leg, if you experience a severe allergic reaction, or if you suspect that the sting is from a box jellyfish, you should call for emergency immediately. We’re a resort in Phuket, get in touch with us to book your stay.

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