Most jellyfish stings can be treated with home remedies intended to deactivate stingers and ease pain.
People experiencing severe or systemic reactions need immediate emergency care that may include:
- Resuscitation. If a jellyfish sting results in sudden loss of heart function (cardiac arrest), immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is necessary. An injection of epinephrine may be required for anaphylaxis.
- Life support. If you have a serious reaction that affects multiple body functions, the first priority in emergency treatment is to stabilize your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and other vital functions.
- Antivenin. If the sting is from a box jellyfish, you may need an immediate dose of a drug designed to neutralize the venom (antivenin).
- Pain control. If a jellyfish sting causes severe pain, an injection of pain medication may be necessary.
People who have stings covering a large area or who have experienced severe or systemic reactions are usually observed for at least six to eight hours because of possible delayed reactions.
Other medical treatments
Other circumstances may require doctor-supervised treatment:
Sep. 01, 2011
- Hypersensitivity. A rash or other skin reaction due to delayed hypersensitivity may be treated with oral antihistamines or corticosteroid ointments or creams.
- Affected eyes. A jellyfish sting occurring on or near an eye requires immediate medical care for appropriate flushing of the eye. A doctor specializing in eye care (ophthalmologist) will likely examine the eye and may prescribe corticosteroid ointments or drops to treat pain and inflammation.
- Marcus EN, et al. Jellyfish stings. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 20, 2011.
- Auerbach P. Envenomation by aquatic invertebrates. In: Auerbach P., ed. Wilderness Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-03228-5..50078-1&isbn=978-0-323-03228-5&uniqId=254897538-2#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-03228-5..50078-1. Accessed May 20, 2011.
- Isbister GK. Trauma and envenomations from marine fauna. In: Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6379433. Accessed May 20, 2011.
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- Markenson D, et al. Part 13: First aid: 2010 American Heart Association and American Red Cross International consensus on first aid science with treatment recommendations. Circulation. 2011;122:S582.