Jellyfish Sting

What is a Jellyfish Sting?

Jelly fish stings occur frequently. The people at risk for being stung by a jelly fish are those who swim in the ocean, or even wade in ocean water. Jelly fish are difficult to see in water because they are clean in color and have a gelatinous form. Their tentacles trail behind them in the water and are difficult to see as well. However, the tentacles carry venom and are lined with thousands of tiny barbed stingers.

The sting from a jelly fish can be mild to severe in nature. However, if you are stung, it will be immediately evident. The skin around the sting becomes painful and red almost immediately. There will also be visible marks on the skin.

At times, the sting from a jelly fish can cause a fully body reaction and if it is severe enough, the sting can be life threatening. While some stings from jelly fish can be treated at home, others require immediate medical attention.

What are the Symptoms of a Jellyfish Sting?

Symptoms of a jellyfish sting can vary depending on the location and severity of the sting. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and the treatment will depend on the severity of the injury.

Symptoms include

  • Stinging pain.
  • Burning or prickling pain
  • Tracks on the skin in the shape of the tentacles, can be red, brown, or purple in color.
  • Itching around the site.
  • Inflammation
  • Numbness or tingling in the area
  • A throbbing pain which can radiate along the affected extremity.

Jellyfish stings can be severe. A severe jellyfish sting can affect the organs in the body, or even multiple organ systems. The reactions can appear immediately after the sting, or they can appear several hours after the injury occurs.

Severe symptoms include

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint problems
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Sudden difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heart rate

The severity of a jellyfish sting is determined by a number of factors.

Severity factors

  • The breed and size of the jellyfish.
  • The age of the person stung.
  • The health of the patient stung.
  • The size of the person stung.
  • How long the stingers remained in the skin.
  • How large the sting is and how much skin was affected by the sting.

How is a Jellyfish Sting Treated?

The majority of jellyfish stings can be treated at home. The area should be thoroughly rinsed with salt water. After rinsing, you should apply a baking soda paste or vinegar. Taking an over the counter pain medication will help reduce the swelling and relive the pain from the sting.

There are other situations that may require a doctor to write a prescription for the person who was stung. Oral antihistamines may be prescribed for someone who develops a rash as reaction to the sting. Corticosteroids may be required for those who have a mild allergic reaction.

A jellyfish sting that is on or near the eye may require you to receive medical treatment to flush the venom out. You may also require pain medication to control the burning and pain associated with the sting.

For someone having a severe reaction to a jellyfish sting, emergency care is necessary. A person who is affected by a severe jellyfish sting may require the following treatment:

  • CPR
  • Life support for unstable, or erratic breathing, heart rate, or high blood pressure
  • Antivenin medication.
  • Prescription medication for pain
Last Reviewed:
October 06, 2016
Last Updated:
September 01, 2017