NHS advice on how to take the sting out of beach visits

NHS 24 is has issued advice on how to deal with jellyfish stings.
NHS 24 is has issued advice on how to deal with jellyfish stings.

NHS 24 has issued advice for anyone heading to the coast to beware of an expected influx of jellyfish and how to deal with associated injuries.

Since coastal waters started to warm up in June and July the number of jellyfish is increasing and the seas around the country are expected to see an influx of marine life.

Professor George Crooks, NHS 24’s medical director, is urging anyone venturing in to the sea off Scotland’s coastline to be prepared and seek advice on dealing with marine life stings from the Health Library at www.nhsinform.co.uk.

He said “Jellyfish tentacles are covered with small poisonous sacs called nematocysts which, if touched, produce a nasty sting. If you are unfortunate enough to be stung, the most important thing to remember is not to rinse the wound in fresh water and not to rub it or apply ice – even if the area feels hot. You should try to soak the affected are in vinegar for 15-30 minutes and if vinegar is not available, use alcohol or sea water.”

Remove any tentacles with tweezers, or a clean stick, and wear gloves if possible. Any remaining poison sacs can be removed by applying shaving cream to the affected area and using a razor blade or a credit card.

If the eyes are affected, they should be rinsed with a saline (salt) solution, such as artificial tears, and dabbed with a towel that has been soaked in vinegar. Do not apply vinegar directly to the eyes.

Stings to the mouth should be treated by gargling with a watery vinegar solution which should be spat out and not swallowed.

Pain and swelling can be treated with painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Professor Crooks added: “If you are walking along the beach, be careful not to touch jellyfish that have been washed onto the shore. They can still be poisonous so try to keep curious kids and dogs away from them.”

Further information about stings from marine creatures can be found at the Health Library at www.nhsinform.co.uk