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WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS STUNG BY A JELLYFISH

jellyfish

 For many kids (and parents), jellyfish, other scary marine creatures, and the mere vastness of

the ocean can make swimming seem a bit too terrifying.

To ease your fears, we've put together a guide including all the information you need in order to

prevent and treat a child jellyfish sting.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT JELLYFISH STINGS

Jellyfish cause a large majority of all marine life stings in the ocean. While some appear to be

small, transparent blobs, other jellyfish are much more colorful with long, dangling tentacles.

Here's what you should know about jellyfish before your family trip to the beach…

More often than not, jellyfish stings are harmless. The pain is comparable to that

caused by a bee sting.

● Jellyfish tentacles are full of tons of tiny stingers, called nematocysts, that can stick to

your skin if you brush up against a jellyfish in or out of the water.

Jellyfish DO NOT actively target humans. They only sting in self defense if you bump

up against or touch them while swimming.

● Even dead jellyfish and pieces of tentacles washed up on the shore can sting.

JELLYFISH STING SYMPTOMS

Typical jellyfish sting symptoms include…

● red marks,

● burning pain,

● itching,

● numbness,

● and tingling.

HOW TO TREAT A CHILD JELLYFISH STING

Your child was just stung by a jellyfish…what do you do?

1. Remove your child from the water and bring them to the water's edge.

2. Rinse the stung area with sea water to remove any large tentacles stuck on the skin.

DO NOT use bottled water or other fresh water, as it will only increase the pain from the

stingers.

3. DO NOT rub, scrub, or scratch the stung area, as that will only elevate the pain.

4. Rinse the stung area with vinegar for 15 minutes. Vinegar is a weak acid that

significantly reduces the burning pain of most jellyfish stings (except Chesapeake Bay

Jellyfish – or Sea Nettle – stings). It's a good idea to bring a small water bottle filled with

vinegar with you every time you bring your kiddos to the beach.

5. Pull any remaining stingers out of the affected area with tweezers. DO NOT use a

credit card or other stiff-edged card or tool to scrape out the stingers. Tweezers are

much more effective (and much less painful) for your child. And DO NOT use your bare

fingers to pull out the stingers – the stingers will just get stuck in YOUR hand.

6. Coat the impacted area with a mild cream (ideally calamine lotion or hydrocortisone

cream, but other mild lotions may be able to ease the pain).

7. Once you get home, soak the stung area in a warm (not scalding) shower or bath.

This will also help ease your child's pain. After the shower, reapply calamine lotion, as

needed, for comfort.

8. Talk to your pediatrician about pain relievers or antihistamines if your

child's pain is serious and persistent.

DOES PEEING REALLY HELP JELLYFISH STINGS?

Absolutely not! The myth that urine counteracts and soothes jellyfish stings has been around for

a long time, but no existing scientific studies back up this claim. In fact, urine can actually

increase the pain of a jellyfish sting.

WHEN TO CALL 911

Seek immediate medical care if your child…

● is experiencing severe pain

● is generally feeling unwell,

● is struggling to swallow or breathe,

● has a swollen tongue or lips,

● is nauseous, vomiting, dizzy, or has a bad headache,

● is experiencing muscle spasms,

● has been stung across a large portion of their body or in the eye or mouth,

● or may have been stung by a very dangerous jellyfish.

HOW TO PREVENT OR PREPARE FOR JELLYFISH STINGS

Although jellyfish stings are relatively common along North Carolina beaches, there are things

you can do to keep your family safe.

Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Kure Beach, and the Fort Fisher Recreation Area are all

lifeguarded. Keep an eye out for any purple warning flags. Lifeguards will post these flags to

indicate "dangerous marine life," which could very well mean that some fellow beach-goers have

spotted some jellyfish in the area. If you encounter one of these flags, it's best to stay out of the

water or find another spot along the beach without a "marine life" warning.

Before you go to the beach, it's also a good idea to brush up on the various types of

North Carolina jellyfish. You'll thank yourself later when you're able to determine whether your child

has encountered a deadly Portuguese Man-of-War or Sea Wasp or a milder Moon Jelly or Lion's

Mane Jellyfish.

Last but not least, you should come prepared to every beach trip with a small plastic bottle of

vinegar, some tweezers, and some calamine lotion. That way, you'll be ready to act fast if things

go south.

Have questions about jellyfish stings? Reach out to us through the

Carolina Pediatrics patient portal. The Carolina Pediatrics team can answer all of your jellyfish sting questions.

Need to schedule a follow-up appointment for your child's sting? Schedule an appointment

with your family pediatrician.

WHEN TO TAKE YOUR CHILD TO THE DOCTOR FOR SUNBURN

Wilmington Office

Address:
715 Medical Center Drive
Wilmington, NC  28401

Phone: (910)763-2476
FAX: (910)763-8176

Click here for more information.

Hampstead Office

Address:
16747 US HWY 17N, Suite 114 Hampstead, NC  28443

Phone: (910) 777-2013
FAX: (910) 821-1060

Click here for more information.

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