Barbara J. Drobina, DO is an Emergency Physician in the United States Navy. Dr. Drobina graduated from University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences, Des Moines, IA. Dr. Drobina completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, VA.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
If you are stung by a box jellyfish, seek medical help immediately. While
you are waiting for medical help, flood the area with vinegar until medical help
is available and keep as still as possible. If you are not close to medical
care, soak the area and tentacles for 10 minutes or more, before attempting to
remove them. If the sting is on the arms or legs, you can place a pressure
dressing (like an ACE wrap used for a sprained ankle) around the sting. Be
careful that you do not stop blood flow - the fingers and toes should always
stay pink. This will help to slow down the spread of the toxin.
For other jellyfish stings, soak or rinse the area in vinegar (acetic acid)
for 15-30 minutes to stop the nematocysts from releasing their toxins. If you do
not have vinegar available, rinse in sea water,70% isopropyl alcohol, or Safe
Sea Jellyfish After Sting® pain relief gel. Do not use fresh water. Fresh water will cause the nematocysts to
continue to release their toxin. For the same reason, do not rub the area, apply
ice or hot water.
Remove tentacles with a stick or a pair of tweezers. Wear gloves if you
have them available.
Apply shaving cream or a paste of baking soda to the area. Shave the area
with a razor or credit card to remove any adherent nematocysts. Then reapply
vinegar or alcohol. The shaving cream or paste prevents nematocysts that have
not been activated from releasing their toxin during removal with the razor.
Eye stings should be rinsed with a commercial saline solution like
Artifical Tears; dab the skin around the eyes with a towel that has been soaked
in vinegar. Do not place vinegar directly in the eyes.
Mouth stings should be treated with 1/4 strength vinegar. Mix ¼ cup of
vinegar with ¾ cup of water. Gargle and spit out the solution. Do not drink or
swallow the solution.
For pain, take
acetaminophen (Tylenol) 325 mg 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours for pain; or
Ibuprofen (Motrin) or Aleve every 8 hours for pain.
CPR may be necessary for all stings if the person stops breathing and/or no
longer has a pulse.