Just imagine – you are taking a long walk on Pacific Beach, enjoying the sea air and the amazing San Diego scenery without a care in the world, when suddenly you step on something. It feels like some sort of mushy gel, but when you look down you find that it’s actually a jellyfish. A burning, itching, stinging sensation is slowly but steadily starting to spread up your leg, and you are now in a panic. What is the best action to take?
We have all heard the most common myth about curing a jellyfish sting, which is to have someone pee on it. (Yes, you heard me correctly). However, as appealing as that sounds (yuck!), there are actual cures that will calm the burning and ensure no other severe symptoms (nausea, vomiting, swelling, muscle spasms, or even, in extreme cases, coma) will occur.
The most helpful immediate treatment is to soak the sting in vinegar, isopropyl alcohol or use a jellyfish sting treatment cream for 15 – 30 minutes. If these are unavailable, salt water will do. You will have to remove the tentacles with tweezers, as using your hands could result in the release of more toxins–ouch! It is then advised to rinse with the solution again.
While jellyfish aren’t all that common in San Diego this time of year, stingrays do find shelter in our warm summer waters. When entering the ocean, be sure to shuffle your feet rather than step directly onto the ocean floor. Shuffling your feet causes the “rays” to flee from their hiding spot under the sand. If you do happen to step on a ray and are stung, it is important to remove the barb immediately, as well as any clothing near the infected area. Soak the injured area in the hottest water possible for an hour, wrap it in a bandage, and use a topical treatment to stop any swelling.
Although in both cases these relatively simple cures usually do the trick, it is sometimes necessary to seek medical treatment. If the injured person shows signs of difficulty of breathing, has been stung in the mouth, or is a young child or elderly, it is important to get medical attention immediately. Antibiotics and more serious treatments may be advised.
The best way to avoid these fun cures? Pay close attention to where you are walking and swimming on those wonderful and beautiful San Diego beach trips!