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Treat Jellyfish Sting

First Aid treatment guide for aquatic life injuries such as stings by jellyfish, fire coral, and stinging hydroids often cause severe pain, itching and hives, allergic reaction, and shortness of breath.

Patient Care; Aquatic Life Injuries

  • STOP - Assess and observe the scene; Is the victim still in the water? Is the venomous creature nearby?

  • THINK - Consider your safety and form action plan; How can I further protect myself and the patient?

  • ACT - Check responsiveness and Alert EMS as appropriate

  • Perform a primary assessment and monitor the patient's Cycle of Care AB-CABS

  • If the patient shows signs of severe allergic reaction, treat appropriately

  • Once EMS has been contacted, obtain and follow local medical control directions for field treatment prior to their arrival; Keep the patient still and at rest; Treat for shock if needed

  • Neutralize jellyfish tentacles with vinegar and remove large tentacle fragments from your skin using forceps or a cloth instead of your hands

  • Treat jellyfish stings by liberally washing the affected area with vinegar (4-6% acetic acid solution) or sea water for at least 30 seconds to inactivate venom and prevent further envenomation; Do not use urine

  • After the nematocysts are removed or deactivated, treat pain with hot-water immersion when possible

  • Apply a cold compress to the area; Consider using pressure immobilization for a major jellyfish sting over the wounded area after you have applied the vinegar; Clean wounds with soap and water, apply local antiseptics and seek medical assistance

  • If the person begins to develop an allergic reaction or becomes breathless, rush him or her to the hospital at once