Tag Archives: Sting Treatment

Stingray Sting Treatment

Hawaiian Stingray

Hawaiian Stingray

A distant cousin of the shark, Stingrays and other rays like skates, electric rays, guitarfishes and sawfishes are classified as Batoidea, a type of cartilaginous fish and have around 500 species in thirteen families.

They are pretty widespread and can be found in seas on the floor, across the world in both temperate and cold-water. The manta is an exception living in open waters and a few fresh water species living in brackish bays and estuaries.

Most species of rays have flat bodies that facilitate them to effectively conceal themselves in their environment which is the sea bed. Their disc like shape (in most ray species) have five ventral slot-like body openings called gill slits that lead from the gills and their mouths on the undersides. Because their eyes are on top of their bodies they cannot see their prey and use smell and electro-receptors similar to those of sharks.

There are nine known species of rays found in Hawaiian waters, divided into three distinct categories, Manta, Eagle, and Stingray. The most common stingray in Hawaii is the broad stingray, sometimes referred to as the Hawaiian, brown or whip-tail stingray pictured above.

The Hawaiian stingray has a diamond-shaped body similar to the diamond stingray. The Hawaiian stingray can grow to over 5 feet wide, but few of this size are rarely seen any more. Their tails are twice as long as their body length and are equipped with venomous spines similar to a serrated-edged knife which it uses for defense.

The most common injury from a stingray comes from accidentally stepping on one which will cause its tail to whip around and being driven into the victims leg or foot.

To avoid being stung by a stingray, use care when wading in sandy-bottomed shallow water. A good preventive measure is to do the “stingray shuffle.” Slowly slide or shuffle your feet in the sand. Any stingrays in the area are likely to retreat as fast as possible.

To treat a Stingray sting follow these simple steps:

  1. Immediately wash the area with fresh water.
  2. DO NOT remove any visible spines from the wound, leave this for trained medical personnel as the spines are barbed and may cause more damage to flesh when being removed.
  3. Use direct pressure with gauze pads to control bleeding.
  4. Soak the affected area in warm water (110°F to 113°F) for 30 to 90 minutes to denature the toxins.
  5. Administration of analgesia (never use aspirin in conjunction with hot water treatments).
  6. Watch for signs of systemic symptoms and be ready to perform CPR if necessary or treatment for anaphylactic shock.
  7. Transport to the hospital for evaluation and wound debridement and care.

Devil Scorpionfish Sting Treatment

DevilScorpionfish

Devil Scorpionfish

In the Hawaiian language, scorpionfish are known as nohu, which is the same name used for stonefish in Tahiti.

A close relative of and often mistaken for the stonefish, the Devil Scorpionfish pictured to the right was photographed at Sharks Cove on Oahu’s North Shore.

There are approximately 350 known species of scorpionfish around the world, approximately 25 of which can be found in Hawaii waters. Lionfish and turkeyfish are also in the scorpionfish family, but generally have longer fins.

Like the stonefish, the Devil Scorpionfish is also a master of disguise in both body shape, and coloration. It is very often mistaken for a common rock. Most stings occur when someone mistakingly steps on a Devil Scorpionfish in shallow water near the shore, where there oftentimes are a lot of other rocks, or along the reef. The Devil Scorpionfish is able to blend in with the other rocks and stay motionless, thereby virtually disappearing from view.

If a person is stung, that person will experience intense throbbing, sharp pain. There may be severe bleeding and a whitened color of the area around the site of the sting and the color of the area changes as the amount of oxygen supplying the area decreases. The victim may experience intense abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, delirium, fainting, fever, headache, muscle twitching, seizures, paralysis. difficulty breathing, changes in blood pressure, heart failure, pulmonary edema, and loss of consciousness.

Immediate emergency medical treatment is advised as some people are more susceptible to the venom than others. The sting of the stonefish can be extremely deadly.

To treat a Stonefish sting follow these simple steps:

  1. Immediately wash the area with fresh water.
  2. Carefully remove any visible spines from the wound.
  3. Use direct pressure with gauze pads to control bleeding.
  4. Soak the affected area in warm water (110°F to 113°F) for 30 to 90 minutes to denature the toxins.
  5. Administration of analgesia (never use aspirin in conjunction with hot water treatments).
  6. Watch for signs of systemic symptoms and be ready to perform CPR if necessary or treatment for anaphylactic shock.
  7. Transport to the hospital for evaluation and wound debridement and care, and anti-venom administration where available.

Recovery usually takes about 24 – 48 hours but can take several months.

Stonefish Sting Treatment

Stonefish

Stonefish

Although the stonefish is not found in Hawaiian waters, I thought it was necessary to include it because divers travel, and I want you to be prepared incase you ever encounter one of these nasty looking creatures while diving in the Indo-Pacific region where the stonefish calls home.

The stonefish is a master of disguise in both body shape, and coloration. It is very often mistaken for a common rock, which is why it is so dangerous.

Most stonefish stings occur when someone mistakingly steps on a stonefish in shallow water near the shore, where there oftentimes are a lot of other rocks. The stonefish is able to blend in with the other rocks and stay motionless, thereby virtually disappearing from view.

If a person is stung, that person will experience intense throbbing, sharp pain. There may be severe bleeding and a whitened color of the area around the site of the sting and the color of the area changes as the amount of oxygen supplying the area decreases. The victim may experience intense abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, delirium, fainting, fever, headache, muscle twitching, seizures, paralysis. difficulty breathing, changes in blood pressure, heart failure, pulmonary edema, and loss of consciousness.

Immediate emergency medical treatment is advised as some people are more susceptible to the venom than others. The sting of the stonefish can be extremely deadly.

To treat a Stonefish sting follow these simple steps:

  1. Immediately wash the area with fresh water.
  2. Carefully remove any visible spines from the wound.
  3. Use direct pressure with gauze pads to control bleeding.
  4. Soak the affected area in warm water (110°F to 113°F) for 30 to 90 minutes to denature the toxins.
  5. Administration of analgesia (never use aspirin in conjunction with hot water treatments).
  6. Watch for signs of systemic symptoms and be ready to perform CPR if necessary or treatment for anaphylactic shock.
  7. Transport to the hospital for evaluation and wound debridement and care, and anti-venom administration where available.

Recovery usually takes about 24 – 48 hours but can take several months.

Lionfish Sting Treatment

Lionfish

Lionfish

The beautiful and graceful lionfish has fins with venomous tips that are a danger to anyone in the water where a lionfish happens to be.

The venomous dorsal spines of the lionfish are used for defense and when threatened the lionfish may turn to an upside down position to bear the spines.

Lionfish are considered to be an invasive species that devour juvenile indigenous reef fish species and crustaceans and have the potential to throw off the local ecosystem.

The lionfish is one of the most venomous fish in the ocean, ranking second only to stingrays in the number of human stings worldwide with an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 cases annually.

If a person is stung, that person will experience intense throbbing, sharp pain, tingling sensations, sweatiness and blistering. In worst case scenarios the symptoms may include headache, nausea, abdominal pain, delirium, seizures, paralysis of limbs, changes in blood pressure, breathing difficulties, heart failure and tremors, pulmonary edema, and loss of consciousness.

A common treatment is soaking the afflicted area in hot water, as there is currently no anti-venom. However, immediate emergency medical treatment is still advised as some people are more susceptible to the venom than others.

To treat a Lionfish sting follow these simple steps:

  1. Carefully remove any visible spines from the wound.
  2. Use direct pressure with gauze pads to control bleeding.
  3. Soak the affected area in warm water (110°F to 113°F) for 30 minutes to denature the toxins.
  4. Administration of analgesia (never use aspirin in conjunction with hot water treatments).
  5. Watch for signs of systemic symptoms and be ready to perform CPR if necessary or treatment for anaphylactic shock.
  6. Transport to the hospital for evaluation and wound debridement and care, and anti-venom administration where available.

 

Portuguese Man O’ War Sting Treatment

Portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis)

Portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Portuguese Man O’ War is often mistaken for a jellyfish however it is completely different, and the treatment for its extremely painful stings is also different than for that of a jellyfish. In fact, if it were treated in the same way as a jellyfish sting, it would actually make the situation worse.

The portuguese man o’ war can be found along the Windward beaches while the islands are receiving trade winds, and along Leeward beaches while the islands are receiving “Kona Winds”.

The man o’ war is a pelagic colonial hydroid, meaning that it is not a single animal, but a colony or group of four different highly specialized organisms (polyps). These polyps are interdependent on one another for survival.

The body of the man o’ war consists of a gas-filled bladder that contains a high level of methane gas, along with trace amounts of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. It is translucent and tinted either shades of pink, blue, or purple. The body grows between 3 to 12 inches long and may extend above the water by as much as 6 inches. This bladder has a crest on top of it that is used as a sail so that the wind can push the man o’ war across the ocean like a tiny sail boat.

Beneath the gas-filled body hang clusters of polyps containing tentacles which may reach up to over 100 feet in length when stretched out. These polyps are of three specialized types, each having a specific function. The function of the dactylozooid polyps’ is detecting and capturing prey, gonozooid polyps’ function is reproduction, and gastrozooid polyps’ function is breaking down the captured prey for food.

Each of the polyps cannot survive on their own, and the man o’ war cannot survive missing one of the polyp organisms. Their only chance for survival is their bond with each other.

Tentacles of the dactylozooid’s contain tiny nematocystic (coiled thread-like) structures that can paralyze small fish and other prey that come into contact with them. The gastrozooid’s then cover the prey and start digesting it. The man o’ war will eat basically anything that comes into contact with their stinging tentacles. As the man o’ war drifts across the surface of the ocean carried by the wind its tentacles are constantly search through the water underneath it for food.

Muscles in each tentacle contract and drag prey into range of the digestive polyps, the gastrozooids, which, acting like small mouths, consume and digest the food by phagocytosis – by secreting a full range of enzymes that variously break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The prey consists mostly of small crustaceans, small fish, algae and other members of the surface plankton which the man-of-war ensnares in its entangling, stinging nematocystic threads.

The sting of the man o’ war is extremely painful to humans and can cause very serious effects including fever, shock, and interference with pulmonary and respiratory functions. Where ever its blue tentacles have touched bare skin a red whip-like wavy welts which are very painful. These welts can last for many hours and can reappear up to 4 or 6 weeks after the incident due to the release of histamine, bradykinin, kallikrein or acetylcholine resulting in bleeding within the skin from capillary and venous vasodilation and occasional leukocyte infiltration.

To treat a Portuguese Man O’ War sting follow these simple steps:

  1. Immediately flush the affected area with fresh water to remove any unfired nematocysts from the skin. Contrary to what is taught in folklore, local practice, and even some papers on sting treatment, DO NOT use vinegar, urine, ammonia,meat tenderizer, sodium bicarbonate, boric acid, lemon juice, fresh water, steroid cream, alcohol, cold packs, papaya, hydrogen peroxide, or anything else other than water to flush the affected area as it may cause the remaining nematocysts to fire injecting more toxin and could also lead to infection. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that any of these home remedies will disable further stinging and venom discharge.
  2. Using a gloved hand, stick, or other such tool, pick off any remaining pieces of tentacle from the skin.
  3. Immediately flush the affected area with fresh water once again.
  4. Once the area has been flushed clean with water, apply ice packs to the affected area to relieve the pain.
  5. Immediate medical attention may be necessary as the stings may induce anaphylactic shock.

Box Jellyfish Sting Treatment

box jellyfish, tiny but dangerous

box jellyfish, tiny but dangerous (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here in Hawaii we are blessed with being able to dive year round in warm ocean waters. One of the drawbacks to living on an island in these warm waters is that we share the waters with the box jellyfish.

Box jellyfish are drawn to the South and Leeward facing shores of the islands 7-12 days after a full moon. Days 8, 9, and 10 after a full moon are the most likely days to spot box jellies near the shore, however they may be found offshore at any time.

Box jellyfish are a class of cnidarians (jellyfish) called Cubozoa. Some of which are considered to have one of the most deadly stings in the world. Their sting carries venom that attacks not only the skin, but also the central nervous system and the heart.

Box jellyfish get their name from the box-like shape of their bodies. Multiple tentacles drop from each corner of their box-shaped bell, yielding an average of about 300,000 stinging cells, called nematocysts on each box jellyfish.

Although many of the over 50 species of Box Jellyfish are highly poisonous, and a few are considered to be extremely deadly the species that we generally encounter here in Hawaii are smaller and less toxic than their Australian cousins. That does not mean that the species here in Hawaiian waters are not able to kill you, they still have the ability to cause severe allergic reactions in people who are especially sensitive to their toxin which could result in pulmonary (heart) and/or respiratory failure.

The average size for a box jellyfish in Hawaiian waters is about 1 to 4 inches tall with tentacles reaching up to about 2 feet long. Their bodies are clear making them nearly transparent and difficult to see in the water.

A typical box jellyfish encounter leaves the diver with red, painful, swollen, whip-like stripes where the nematocysts on the tentacles of the jelly came in contact with the divers bare skin. The pain can be severe and will generally last a couple of days, however there are a few things that you can do to lessen the pain.

To treat a Box Jellyfish sting follow these simple steps:

  1. Immediately flush the affected area with vinegar to remove any unfired nematocysts from the skin. Contrary to what is taught in folklore, local practice, and even some papers on sting treatment, DO NOT use fresh water, urine, ammonia,meat tenderizer, sodium bicarbonate, boric acid, lemon juice, fresh water, steroid cream, alcohol, cold packs, papaya, hydrogen peroxide, or anything else other than vinegar to flush the affected area as it may cause the remaining nematocysts to fire injecting more toxin and could also lead to infection. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that any of these home remedies will disable further stinging and venom discharge.
  2. Using a gloved hand, stick, or other such tool, pick off any remaining pieces of tentacle from the skin.
  3. Immediately flush the affected area with vinegar once again.
  4. Once the area has been flushed clean with vinegar, soak the affected area in water as hot as you can stand (at least 115°F) for about 15 to 20 minutes. If the affected area cannot be submersed in hot water a hot compress can also be used.
  5. Apply an ice pack to relieve pain.
  6. Immediate medical attention may be necessary as the stings may induce anaphylactic shock.

For expected arrival dates of the box jellyfish to the island of Oahu, check our convenient forecast calendar.

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