Jellyfish stings are a common occurrence for people who spend lots of time in the sea. As such, this is a fairly common problem for swimmers and divers. The stings, just as the names suggest, come from the jellyfish. They originate from the long tentacles that emanate from the body.
Once the tentacles come into contact with the body, they inject venom from the multiple barbed stingers present. The stings are as varied as the different types of jellyfish, and this means that the severity of the same differs. For the most part however, the stings result in immediate pain and inflammation of the injected body part. This often creates red marks at the point where the skin was irritated.
Other symptoms of jellyfish stings include intense itching, swelling, a tingling sensation as well as radiating pain that spreads up the limbs. Some of the signs of severe stings, and which warrant immediate medical attention include nausea and/or vomiting, fever, loss of consciousness and difficulty breathing. This is sometimes accompanied by headache and heart problems. Some species of jellyfish cause whole-body illness, and in rare cases, have proven fatal. It is important to note too, that the severity of the sting is dependent on the type of jellyfish, the period of exposure to the stingers and the affected surface area. Severe symptoms require emergency treatment. For mild stings however, there are a number of natural remedies that may be used to alleviate the pain.
NOTE: Use this first step before using any of the natural remedies.
Below is a series of steps that must be followed before using any of the remedies listed below. It is important because it not only helps get rid of loose stingers, it also reduces the amount of venom been pumped into the skin.
1. Since jellyfish stings are often obtained while in water, the first thing that you need to do is to rinse the affected skin using seawater. Do not use freshwater for rinsing purposes as this only irritates the skin and intensifies the pain. This is thought to happen because the freshwater activates the additional nematocysts present in the stung area. Alternatively, cover the sting using beach sand as soon as you have been stung. Beach sand is helpful as it has been shown to help get rid of the toxins present in the sting. Beach water to which seawater has been added to make it wet is ideal for this purpose.
2. When the affected skin has been rinsed, the next step involves scrapping off the remaining stingers. Do this carefully to avoid increasing the pain and irritation. You may use an ID card or credit card for this purpose.
3. Once this is done, follow up with the use of any remedies listed below.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Cup of apple cider vinegar and cotton wool.
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular natural remedies for the natural treatment of jellyfish stings. The vinegar’s acidity helps disinfect the skin and prevent infections from coming in. ACV has excellent anti-inflammatory properties which come in handy when dealing with jellyfish stings. As mentioned above, the stings tend to cause lots of pain and inflammation, so the application of ACV goes a long way in providing relief from the pain. Use this remedy by following the simple directions below.
- Soak the cotton wool in the apple cider vinegar.
- Squeeze the excess vinegar on the affected skin and proceed to dab it onto the stung area.
- Do this for a couple of minutes to allow the vinegar’s action.
- Rinse the skin using cold water to alleviate the pain and help heal the skin.
2. Baking Soda:
Time Required: 20 – 30 Min
What You Need: 2 Tablespoons of baking soda, 1 cup of water and cotton wool for application.
Baking soda is used to treat jellyfish stings for the simple reason that it helps with decontamination and the elimination of the tentacles. When made into a paste, the baking soda deactivates the nematocysts responsible for spreading the toxins, thus reducing the extent of the reaction and providing relief from the symptoms of the sting. You will need some water to prepare the paste as well as cotton wool to use when applying.
- Prepare a paste by adding some water to the baking soda, and gently mixing to get a fine paste. This will be accompanied with bubbling that is perfectly normal.
- Ensure that the paste is neither too runny nor too coarse.
- Use the cotton wool to apply the paste on the affected skin to ensure that the stinging cells are completely deactivated.
- Let the paste sit on the affected skin for about 20 minutes before rinsing with cold water.
- Use this severally until the pain dissipates.
3. Cold Packs:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A handful of ice cubes and a clean towel.
The use of cold packs is recommended for the natural treatment of jellyfish stings after using either of the first two remedies above. This is because both apple cider vinegar and the baking soda paste decontaminate the stings, therefore allowing for the water’s low temperatures to provide pain relief in the absence of active nematocysts. The best way to use cold packs is to wrap the ice cubes and apply them on the affected skin as indicated in the simple steps below.
- Place the ice cubes on a clean towel and wrap to get a handy pack.
- Rub the ice pack on the affected area severally to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation.
- Use this remedy severally until the irritated skin is completely healed.
- The other option is to soak the affected skin (whenever possible) in a basin to which ice cubes have been added.
4. Aloe Vera Gel:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Freshly cut aloe vera leaf, a sharp knife or a blade and gauze tape.
Aloe vera gel is another popular remedy used for the natural treatment of jellyfish stings. Loved for its excellent anti-inflammatory properties and soothing traits, this is the perfect accompaniment for mild stings. When applied on the affected skin, the gel’s coolness soothes the sting while reducing the pain and inflammation. What’s more, the gel acts as a barrier between the stung skin and infective agents from the external environment, effectively preventing possible infections. You will need gauze tape to hold the gel in place.
- Slice the mid-section of the succulent aloe vera leaf using the sharp knife or blade in order to allow the gel to flow freely.
- Collect this gel and apply it on the affected skin, ensuring you rub in as gently as you can to avoid abrasion.
- Massage for a few minutes and then cover using gauze tape. Secure it loosely without applying to much pressure on the skin.
- When the sting is still fresh, you may need to change this gauze more often until the skin starts to heal.
In line with the remedies mentioned above, it is important to ensure that you get adequate rest even as you monitor the progress of healing. This not only allows the skin to rejuvenate, it also places the body at ease. Watch out for adverse reactions and make sure you see doctor if you develop a rash or suddenly experience breathing difficulties. Remember that these remedies are recommended for mild jellyfish stings. Serious and potentially life-threatening stings are accompanied by more severe symptoms, and this require emergency medical attention.