Jellyfish stings

Skin | Dermatology | Jellyfish stings (Disease)


Jellyfish stings are relatively common problems for people swimming, wading or diving in seawaters. The long tentacles trailing from the jellyfish body can discharge thousands of microscopic barbed stingers that release venom into the skin.

Jellyfish stings can 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

Causes and Risk factors

Jellyfish tentacles contain microscopic barbed stingers (nematocysts). Each nematocyst is made up of a tiny bulb that holds venom and a coiled, sharp-tipped tube. The jellyfish uses the venom to protect itself and kill prey.

When something comes in contact with the tentacle — a fish or a human — tiny triggers on the surface of the tentacle release the nematocysts. The sharp tube penetrates the skin and releases the venom, which 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.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Most jellyfish stings can be treated with home remedies intended to deactivate stingers and ease pain. People experiencing severe or systemic reactions need immediate emergency care that may include: resuscitation, life support, antivenin, pain control. People who have stings covering a large area or who have experienced severe or systemic reactions are usually observed for at least six to eight hours because of possible delayed reactions. ...