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Health Issues

Marine Animal Stings

Stings from marine animals can cause injury. Reactions range from mild inflammation to a severe reaction. Some types of stings can be deadly. Most stings occur in shallow ocean water. Some marine animals that sting are jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-war. These animals sting by firing special tentacles called nematocysts. Nematocysts contain poison. Stinging is how these animals capture their prey and defend themselves against attack. It is important to identify the offending animal because in many cases care is quite specific.

What Parents Should Look For

  • A raised bump or ridge (welt) with redness
  • Burning pain
  • Muscle cramping

First Aid Care for Marine Animal Stings

  1. Remove the child from the water.
  2. Rinse the skin with sea water.
  3. Pour vinegar on the affected area until pain is relieved. Unlike fresh water, vinegar will make the nematocysts inactive.

Try to remove the loose tentacles by scraping them off with the edge of a sharp, stiff object such as a credit card. Do not handle tentacles with bare hands.

Last Updated
Pediatric First Aid For Caregivers And Teachers (PedFACTs), 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2013 Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC, an Ascend Learning Company, and the American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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