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Jellyfish Stings and How to Deal With Them

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 6 May 2011 | comments*Discuss
 
Jellyfish Sting Stung Child Swim Water

Swimming in the sea can be a great experience for families and children, but whether on beaches in the UK or abroad, it’s important to be aware of jellyfish. Jellyfish can sting, and the stings can be nasty, so as part of your Beach Safety Advice, make sure your children know the dangers and that you are aware of how to deal with the stings.

When you’re enjoying a dip in the sea with your children, the last thing that may be on your mind is the presence of jellyfish. But perhaps they should be, as jellyfish are a common inhabitant of water. There are a wide variety of different jellyfish in existence and some respond in different ways; there are also Portuguese Man-of-Wars that are sometimes mistaken for jellyfish, as they look very similar.

What To Do If Your Child Gets Stung by a Jellyfish

If your child does get unlucky and gets stung by a jellyfish, then first and foremost, don’t panic. Most stings are uncomfortable for a child and may be painful, but they are usually relatively harmless and respond well to correct treatment.

If a sting occurs, then get your child out of the water as soon as possible. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not necessary to use urine on the wound (yes, this really is an oft-suggested method). Instead, you should apply vinegar liberally to the sting. If no vinegar is available to hand, then the next best bet is to wash the area off with salt water.

If there are any visible tentacles sticking out from the sting wound, then carefully remove them. It’s best to cover your hand with something to do this. If you’re on a beach, then a towel is an obvious choice, but be aware that the tentacles can stick to the towel, so be careful with what you do with it after! Be very careful to not rub the sting area though, as this will make it worse.

Once the tentacles are removed and the wound has been washed, you can help reduce the amount of pain and discomfort by giving your child an ice pack to put on it. Wrap a bag of ice cubes in a T-shirt or a different towel and it should help ease the pain.

In rare cases, a jellyfish sting can cause an allergic reaction, so if your child experiences symptoms such as feeling dizzy, a sudden bad rash or breathing problems, then seek medical help immediately.

Jellyfish Stings Abroad

Some of the jellyfish that exist in waters abroad can be more harmful than those typically found in the UK. The most notorious of these is the box jellyfish, which can cause bad reactions to children if they are stung.

Box jellyfish are common around the shores of Australia, so where possible, always swim or use beaches where there are trained lifeguards available, as they will be well versed in how to treat box jellyfish stings. However, if you need to treat the sting yourself, the best treatment is to first use vinegar on the sting, then make a compress to put on it consisting of baking powder. If you don’t have any vinegar handy, then cola is a good alternative.

Finally, wherever you are, it’s advisable to explain to your child the dangers of touching or picking up jellyfish. Although they look intriguing, their sting is not worth exploration. If you’re worried about a child accidentally standing on a jellyfish in the sea, then jelly shoes or sandals that can be worn in the sea are a good preventative measure to keep feet safe.

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