What to do about a jellyfish sting?

The increase in sea temperature or oil pollution has caused jellyfish pests to be more and more common in coastal areas, especially in the Mediterranean, although every day they appear more in the Atlantic and some species begin to ‘wander ‘through the Cantabrian Sea, still sporadically. But in our warmer sea, they are so frequent that on some occasions the authorities are forced to prohibit the use of some beaches.

Jellyfish are almost transparent marine animals, which feed mainly on plankton, crustaceans, fish eggs, other jellyfish, and small fish, so they do not attack humans.
Stings occur when there is direct human contact with the jellyfish tentacles, which in some species present on our coasts can measure up to 20 meters, so they are not always easy to detect.

In these thin tentacles are stinging cells called cnidocytes, also present in corals or sea anemones.

The cnidocytes are like a blowpipe that contains a stinging filament inside it, which like an arrow shoots out and sticks into the victims. They are microscopic stingers with a toxic substance that in jellyfish serves to defend themselves and to capture their prey.

When we touch the tentacles, those stingers with the toxins shoot and cause our skin itching, pain, burning, inflammation, redness, and even light bleeding.

In most cases, the dermatological lesions disappear within a few days, although the discomfort may persist for longer.

And it is important to note that these toxins remain in the tentacles even in dead jellyfish, so they should never be touched.

The symptoms of jellyfish stings are:

• Burning at the contact area, tingling, or shooting pain.

• Red, brown, or purple marks on the skin where contact with the jellyfish has occurred.

• Stinging.

• Inflammation.

• Throbbing pain.

To treat these annoying symptoms, the best thing to do is:

• If any part of the jellyfish has been attached to our body, we must protect our hands and remove it with hot water or dry sand, as touching it would be synonymous with a new sting, now on the hand or fingers.

• Never apply freshwater, or scratch or rub the affected area because it can promote the release of more toxins.

• Apply cold cloths or compresses soaked with saltwater, lemon juice, vinegar … and then apply cold for about 15 minutes, using ice wrapped in plastic and in a towel.

• If there is an excessive reaction to the bite, appearing hives, breathing difficulties, vomiting, muscle cramps, dizziness, or loss of consciousness, it is best to go to a medical center.