nematocysts fire if touched.
Different jellyfish venoms produce
distinct pain levels in humans; each
requires immediate attention. The stings
pose a worldwide health problem, and
stings from a few species, like Portuguese
man-of-war and the Australian box jellyfish, are life threatening and require
treatment with antivenin.
Old wives’ tales, information on the
internet, and even some first-aid books
contain misinformation on how to treat
jellyfish stings. In the past, wet tobacco,
meat tenderizer, ammonia, ice, and even
urine were recommended; these methods
have since been proven useless. Topical
medications, like calamine and lidocaine,
used to treat skin irritations, are also ineffective for neutralizing the venom.
Some of the most comprehen-
sive research on jellyfish stings comes
from assistant research professor Angel
Yanagihara at the Pacific Biosciences
Research Center and John A. Burns
School of Medicine in Hawaii. She says
the best way to neutralize the venom
from jellyfish stings is heat – hot-water
immersion for 20 minutes at 108 F to
113 F or applying a medium-tempera-
ture (113 F to 130 F) heat pack.
Yanagihara recommends first cleaning
the stung area with vinegar, or seawater if vinegar is not available. Vinegar
cleans the area, and the acid stops the
nondischarged stinging cells from dis-
44 | BoatU.S. Magazine DECEMBER 2017
SAFE, SMART, & CLEAN
charging and causing further pain. She
advises against using tweezers or scraping
with a credit card to remove embedded
tentacle parts. They may be virtually
undetectable under the skin and could
discharge. Taking an antihistamine (such
as Benedryl) or applying a topical steroid
cream will help reduce inflammation,
and taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or
ibuprofen (Advil) can help reduce pain.
Of course, it’s prudent to see a physician
for further treatment, especially for possible embedded cnidae (nematocysts) or
multiple stings from dangerous jellyfish.
When stung, victims should try to
identify the type of jellyfish or at least
describe the shape, size, color, or iridescence. If a box jellyfish or Portuguese
man-of-war is suspected, possible side
effects of extreme burning pain, difficulty
breathing, dry mouth, and extreme anxiety will require a call to 911.
Helen Aitken is a freelance writer, science
educator, U.S. Power Squadrons member,
and BoatU.S. member from coastal
Onboard sting kit
If you boat and swim in an area with jel- lyfish, keep a jellyfish-sting treatment kit on board. Sting No More was developed for use by U.S. Special Operations
Command combat divers with a grant
from the U.S. Department of Defense.
The products from Alatalab Solutions are
now available to the public. The Small
Pro Kit includes 20-milliliter Sting No
More Spray (cleans the site, deactivates
the stinging cells), Sting No More cream
(sting relief), and a reusable hot pack. It
costs $23.50 plus shipping. — H.A.
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