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Catfish Sting

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Catfish Sting Related Articles

Facts about and Definition of Catfish Stings

  • Catfish are a distinctive type of fish that have whiskers protruding from the area around the mouth. They also have external spines near their fins.
  • Catfish are often found in muddy rivers, lakes, and on beaches in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters.
  • These fish are not aggressive. People stung by catfish are usually fishing or bathing when they make contact with a catfish, usually by stepping on it or handling the fish after it has been caught.
  • Both salt- and fresh-water catfish are dangerous. Each has three spines and a stinging apparatus.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Catfish Sting?

Severe pain and inflammation occur at the site of the sting.

What Is the Treatment for a Catfish Sting? Is It Dangerous? What Natural and Home Remedies Help Relieve Pain?

  • Immerse the affected area in water as hot as is tolerable usually relieves pain from a sting.
  • Spines should be removed with tweezers.
  • The wound should be scrubbed and irrigated with fresh water.
  • The wound should not be taped or sewn together.
  • Oral antibiotics are usually recommended for catfish stings that become infected. Antibiotics should be taken if infection develops for at least five days after all signs of infection have resolved. Potential drug allergies should be checked prior to starting any antibiotic. A doctor can recommend the appropriate antibiotic. Some antibiotics can cause sensitivity to the sun, so a sunscreen (at least SPF 15) is also recommended for use with such antibiotics.
  • Pain associated with a catfish sting may be relieved with one to two acetaminophen (Tylenol) every four hours and/or one to two ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) every six to eight hours.


Emotional trauma is best described as a psychological response to a deeply distressing or life-threatening experience. See Answer

When Should You Call a Doctor if You Have Been Stung by a Catfish?

Go to a doctor, your nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Room if you have been stung by a catfish. The doctor will recommend over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to relieve pain, and decrease redness and inflammation from the catfish sting.

What Does a Catfish Look Like (Pictures)?

Armored catfish.
Armored catfish. 

Domestic catfish.
TDomestic catfish.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

12 Jellyfish Sting Symptoms, Pain Relief Remedies, and Treatments

Jellyfish are a type of gelatinous, invertebrate marine animal that is free-swimming, non-aggressive, and is surrounded by tentacles. Jellyfish sting symptoms and signs include:

  1. Raised welts.
  2. Itching.
  3. Rash.
  4. Severe, intense, stinging pain
Reviewed on 10/19/2018
Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine.


Trizna, T, MD, et al. Cutaneous Manifestations Following Exposures to Marine Life Treatment & Management. Medscape. Updated: Jan 12, 2018.

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