A trip to the beach is on everyone’s summer holiday list, however jellyfish and stingers can pose a serious threat to swimmers. The home doctor experts at House Call Doctor have all the information you need to know.

How to avoid getting stung

Firstly, you should always follow lifeguard instructions. Have a chat with a lifeguard on duty or read the warning signs displayed. Weather can play a big role in where jellyfish are located, as they travel with the current which can be impacted by winds. When moving in shallow water, try to disturb the sand to avoid catching a jellyfish by surprise.

If you’re up north during the summer months, wear a protective wetsuit or stinger suit, which can help reduce the chances of you being stung.

Do not touch any jellyfish species that wash up on the beach. Even when dead, jellyfish can deploy venom from their tentacles.

Jellyfish species and their sting symptoms

There are many species of jellyfish, some with a more dangerous sting than others. Here are some common symptoms of each jellyfish sting.

The box jellyfish, or Irukandji:

  • Anxiety and sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Severe pain in the body
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rare cases of damage to the heart
  • Rare cases of fluid in the lungs
  • Stings can be fatal.

Bluebottle and minor jellyfish:

  • Intense pain and sores on the contacted skin
  • Pain usually ending after 1-2 hours
  • Rash or redness.

Treating a sting

In the unfortunate event you get stung by a minor jellyfish or bluebottle, here are 5 steps to help treat that sting.

  1. Get out of the water
  2. Stop the stinging – rinse the area with vinegar for at least 30 seconds, remove tentacles and take a hot shower or soak the affected area for 20 to 45 minutes
  3. Treat discomfort – use mild hydrocortisone cream or an oral antihistamine to relieve itching or swelling
  4. Continue to monitor – clean open wounds and use ice packs to relieve pain.

This is only a guide for low danger stings. If the sting requires emergency medical treatment, dial 000.

Visiting a doctor is usually unnecessary, as stings will not have any long-term effects on your health. However, House Call Doctor recommends visiting your local GP if you have been stung multiple times for further treatment.