Increase in temperatures, decrease in rainfall on the coast, decrease in fish populations in the coastal strip … These are the perfect conditions for jellyfish to be more and more frequent on our coasts every year:
The ten myths surrounding the sting of jellyfish
In the first place, although not all species of jellyfish, those that repeatedly come to our beaches do “like” warm water, and especially when it is more saline, something that increases when the rainfall pattern decreases.
Second, the decline in fish populations, their natural predators, makes their populations much larger than what would be ecologically advisable and desirable.
That is why we have become accustomed to living with them in the coastal summers of the last decade, as much as in the Mediterranean the gigantic specimens of Rizhostoma luteum begin to be seen, a species that can measure two meters and weigh up to 40 kilos, although its bite is not dangerous, although it does sting.
Consequently, we must get used to the possibility of a fortuitous encounter with a jellyfish that ends in a sting, although rather we must say that the action is very similar to that of nettles: the shooting by contact of small crystals with an irritating substance that is they dig into our skin. Sometimes they can also hook part of their tentacles.
And faced with such certainty, it is best to know how to act and what actions to avoid because they will aggravate the wound. There are still some misconceptions or misconceptions about appropriate treatments among many people.
What not to do if we get stung by a jellyfish
In the event of a painful encounter with a jellyfish, we will refrain from performing the following actions.
1. Get out of the water immediately and put fresh water on
You should never, under any circumstances, run to the showers and wash with fresh water. Do not even apply fresh water to the bite. The reason is that while the stinging cells of the jellyfish have salt water inside them, fresh water has hardly any salts.
This generates an osmotic pressure difference that causes fresh water to enter the stinging cells to dilute the concentration of salts in their plasma, thereby causing them to explode. When they explode, they pour all the poison they contain on our skin and the effect will be worse.
2. Make someone urinate on us
There is an extensive literature regarding remedies against jellyfish stings. The most exotic occurrence is the one that recommends pouring urine over the bite.
First of all, urine has not been shown to be a good antidote to the irritating substance released by the stinging cells of the jellyfish, which stick to our skin and stick small crystals impregnated with poison.
But also, if the wound caused by the irritation of the bite is serious, the addition of urine can easily lead to infections and further irritations, given its normally acidic pH.
3. Apply iodine or ammonia
Nor does it seem very good to pour vinegar or ammonia on the irritated area unless the bite is quite punctual. These are aggressive liquids that in a very large wound can only cause greater damage, even though they can neutralize the poison, which is usually a substance of a basic nature.
4. Rubbing ourselves with sand
Another self-defeating myth. The sand does not have any positive or absorbent effect on the venom of the bite, but it can create erosions in the skin, already sensitive after the sun. With sand what we do is increase the possibility of infections.
What works if we get stung by a jellyfish
1. Stay in the salt water for a long time
Seawater is the best antidote for immediate intervention against jellyfish, since it does not explode the stinging cells and dilutes the venom. What you should do, as long as you are not in a complicated area or we are really bad, is to stay between a quarter and a half hour in the sea with the area of the bite soaking. This will lessen its severity.
2. Carefully remove the remains, if any
Always in the salty water, we should gently rub the area to remove the remains of cells or legs of the jellyfish if they are stuck. Even if the cells burst, the sea water will wash off the poison. It is recommended to remove the tentacles with a glove or cloth and rub gently.
3. Apply antihistamine ointment
Always under the recommendation of a pharmacist or a doctor, if after a few hours the area continues to hurt, the indicated thing is to apply an antihistamine ointment or, if there is a wound, a disinfectant.
4. Do not apply fresh water until after two or three hours
For the reasons indicated above, it is advisable to avoid exposure to fresh water in the area until a few hours have passed, as there could be unexploded cells that do so and spill their irritating substances.
5. In the event of anaphylactic shock, call the emergency room
If there was a reaction from anaphylaxis in the affected or affected, Jaime Barreiro-Lopez, emergency nurse in EMS and associate professor at the University of Barcelona of the Master of Critical Illness and Emergencies, assures that “the prudent attitude is to contact the first aider if there is one and / or, failing that, call 112 and follow the instructions “.
“When we call 112, they will tell us what to do after conducting the telephone medical evaluation,” says Barreiro, who also points out that “the patient does not have to travel, but rather a medical ambulance or a helicopter that has to arrive at the place and carry out the treatment of the pathology “.
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