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What to do (and what not to do) if you are stung by a jellyfish on the beach

Jellyfish have made an appearance this year on the beaches of the Malaga coast. In fact, some difficult days in August are expected for bathers due to the high concentration of these invertebrates. This Friday, as the Aula del Mar points out, it is “highly probable” that the jellyfish will return to the coast, especially taking into account the high concentration yesterday, that the east continues and that the tide will be rising most of the day. . The Pelagia noctiluca will be the predominant species of jellyfish on the coasts of Malaga, although in the Axarquía sector it is expected that specimens of Rhizostoma luteum will continue to appear.

In this context, it is normal for beach users to worry about jellyfish stings. The most common symptoms of jellyfish stings are, in addition to itching, red, purple or brown marks on the skin, and marks from the tentacles. They can also cause burning, stabbing pain and tingling in the bite area or swelling of the affected area. Despite managing to recognize them, not everyone knows very well what to do (and what not to do) when this happens. Below, we summarize the information provided by the Infomedusa application, the reactions, the level of toxicity, the steps to follow when faced with a sting and tips to prevent them.

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We start with prevention. To avoid jellyfish, you can always consult the beach lifeguard services and the Infomedusa application about their possible presence. If their presence is common on a beach or we find a plague of jellyfish, the application also recommends purchasing a sunscreen with jellyfish repellenta product that protects from the sun and these invertebrates at the same time.


-First of all, you must get out of the water, wash the wound with sea water and remove the remains of tentacles from the skin (if they are visible) with a flat object, such as a credit card.

-Applying cold also helps. We can do it using a plastic bag or towel with ice cubes for about 15 minutes (in periods of 2 to 3 minutes of rest). “In this way we will prevent the poison from entering the bloodstream,” says Infomedusa. We use the bag so that the water in the ice cube is not in contact with the affected area.

-Apply a baking soda solution if available.

-Wash the wound with tincture of iodine or an antihistamine cream to avoid infection. Take care of the wound until it heals.

-After recovery, “it is advisable to avoid another sting in the short term, since the body has been sensitized to the venom and the reaction to a second sting could be greater.”

-If the problems persist, it is advisable Consult a doctor and go to a health center.


-Never wash the wound with fresh water, “as it could break the cnidocytes – special cells that secrete a stinging substance – that have not acted, making the wound even worse.”

-Do not scratch or rub your skin with towels or other clothing.

-Do not apply ammonia.

-Do not apply alcohol.

-Avoid pressure bandages.

-Do not use home remedies of various kinds (such as urine, for example, a widespread popular belief).

-Avoid using vinegar unless we know with certainty what species has bitten us. “Vinegar is useful to counteract the effects of the bite of species such as Carybdea marsupialis and Physalia physalis, but it is contraindicative for the most common species,” indicates Infomedusa.

The most serious bites

The severity of the sting will always depend on the size and type of jellyfish. The age of the affected person also influences since the worst reactions occur in children and the elderly. The length of time the jellyfish has remained attached to the body and the size of the area where the sting occurred will also have an influence. On the other hand, it is important to highlight that, Even if the animal is dead, its stinging ability persists for quite a long time.

These stings “in rare cases and depending on the type of jellyfish can be fatal, the most normal thing is that they cause redness and irritation of the skin.” Severe stings from dangerous jellyfish such as Portuguese Caravel They can affect differently and these effects can appear immediately or appear over time (heart problems with risk of heart attack, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, severe headache, sleepiness, fainting and dizziness or breathing difficulties, etc).

On the other hand, regarding the toxic capacity of a jellyfish, this depends on different factors, including the species. There are four categories, depending on their level of toxicity:

Very stinging: The bite can cause fairly serious injuries. It is recommended to avoid all contact with this jellyfish.

Stinging: Species with moderate stinging capacity, which could cause important effects on people. It is recommended to avoid contact with this jellyfish.

Little sting: Species with low stinging capacity, with little or no effect on people. “It is recommended not to touch it because it could cause post-contact dermal reactions depending on the person’s sensitivity.”

Not stinging: Species that lacks stinging cells. Completely harmless to people.