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How should I treat a jellyfish sting?

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The severity of a jellyfish sting depends on the type and size of the jellyfish, how much skin was affected and the age and size of the person stung. Most jellyfish stings can be treated at home. However, some can cause a serious medical emergency. Typical, non-threatening symptoms of a jellyfish sting include the following:

• Itching

• Burning

• Throbbing or stinging pain

• Red welts

For moderate jellyfish stings, remove all remaining parts of the jellyfish from the affected area. Avoid using your hands to remove jellyfish tentacles and do not rinse the area with fresh water or apply ice. This may cause more venom to be released into the skin. Rinse the area with vinegar thoroughly. This inhibits any remaining stingers (from some types of jellyfish) from releasing more venom.

Young children, older adults and those with hypersensitivity are most likely to experience a severe reaction to a jellyfish sting. If you have been stung by a jellyfish and experience any of the following symptoms, even if it has been several hours since the initial contact with the jellyfish, you should seek immediate medical attention.

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Headache

• Diarrhea

• Fever

• Chills

• Dizziness

• Swelling in the lymph nodes

• Muscle spasms or weakness

• Trouble controlling muscle movement

• Painful joints

• Loss of consciousness

• Difficulty breathing

• Irregular heartbeat

• Sudden loss of heart function (cardiac arrest)

To make an appointment with an East Jefferson General Hospital internist, please call HealthFinder at 504-456-5000 or visit us online at www.ejgh.org.

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