Common signs and symptoms of jellyfish stings include:
- Burning, prickling, stinging pain
- Red, brown or purplish tracks on the skin — a "print" of the tentacles' contact with your skin
- Tingling and numbness
- Throbbing pain that radiates up a leg or an arm
Severe jellyfish stings can affect multiple body systems. These reactions may appear rapidly or several hours after the stings. Signs and symptoms of severe jellyfish stings include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle and joint problems
- Weakness and dizziness
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart problems
The severity of your reaction depends on:
- The type and size of the jellyfish
- Your age, size and health, with severe reactions more likely in children and people in poor health
- How long you were exposed to the stingers
- How much of your skin is affected
When to see a doctor
Seek emergency treatment if:
Aug. 09, 2014
- Stings cover large areas of skin
- You have severe symptoms or a serious allergic reaction
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- Purcell JE. Jellyfish in Chesapeake Bay and nearby waters. NOAA Ocean Service Education. http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/lessons/stinging_sea_append.html. Accessed April 2, 2014
- Li L, et al. Interventions for the symptoms and signs resulting from jellyfish stings. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009688.pub2/abstract. Accessed April 1, 2014.
- Ward NT, et al. Evidence-based treatment of jellyfish stings in North America and Hawaii. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2012;60:399.
- Auerbach PS. In reply to evidence-based treatment of jellyfish stings in North America and Hawaii. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2013;61:253.
- Lebwohl MG, et al. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier, 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 27, 2014.
- Marcus EN, et al. Jellyfish stings. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 27, 2014.
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