Risk Of Jellyfish Stings On Rise & What To Do If Your Child Is Stung

Should you put vinegar on the sting? Or urine? Or alcohol? Or perhaps ice water? Experts at Health Direct set the record straight when it comes to first aid for all types of jellyfish stings.jellyfish sting

As potentially dangerous Irukandji jellyfish make their way down the coast to popular Queensland beaches and box jellyfish continue to be spotted along the shores in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, the risk of a jellyfish sting is even higher than ever before.

Bluebottle Jellyfish

Bluebottle stings are the most common jellyfish stings in Australia and these jellies frequent the beaches in New South Wales, Victoria and southern Queensland.

Bluebottle stings cause immediate and severe pain that generally fades within an hour. The severity of the string comes from the amount of contact the skin has had with the tentacle.

The sting usually has a red line, often with a beaded appearance and can be swollen and itchy. Very rarely the sting can cause a scar.

Symptoms of a blue bottle sting, other than pain at the sight of the sting, include nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, but this is rare.

If Your Child Is Stung By A Bluebottle Jellyfish

  • Wash the remaining tentacles off the skin with seawater or carefully pick them off his skin.
  • Immerse the sting in hot water for 20 minutes.
  • Avoid using vinegar, urine, sand or any other liquid other than hot water on the area.
  • If you don’t have access to hot water, apply cold water or an ice pack.
  • The pain will generally subside in an hour but if symptoms worsen or if your child starts to vomit, feel nauseous or experience abdominal pain, then contact a doctor.

Deadly Jellyfish Moving Down The Coast To Prime Holiday Hot Spots

Box Jellyfish

Box jellyfish are more dangerous than bluebottle jellyfish as they are potentially deadly. Their sting can kill within minutes. There have been 67 deaths in Australia due to box jellyfish since 1984.

Box jellyfish, although invisible in water, are actually quite large with 10 stinging tentacles. They live in waters off Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Box jellyfish pain is immediate and the symptoms, which can include confusion, agitation and unconsciousness followed by respiratory failure, can occur straight away.

If Your Child Is Stung By A Box Jellyfish

  • Remove your child from the water and contact 000 immediately. Emergency services will administer an antivenom as soon as possible.
  • In the meantime, try to keep your child calm.
  • Avoid using alcohol, urine, sand or a compression bandage to the wound.
  • You can apply vinegar to the wound which can help to remove the tentacles (but will not do anything for pain relief).

box jellyfish

Irukandji Jellyfish

Irukandji jellyfish are a type of box jellyfish and also one that comes with potentially deadly stings. And although there have only been three recent deaths due to Irukandji stings in Australia, dozens are hospitalised every year due to these painful stings.

Irukandji live in waters around Far North Queensland and Western Australia and stinger season generally runs from November to March.

However, recently four people were hospitalised due to Irukandji stings off Fraser Island, leading experts to believe the risk of stings now extends to those on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts as well.

If you are stung you may or may not feel a mild pain at the sting site and develop a goosebump-like skin reaction. Symptoms may not occur until about 30 minutes after the sting and can include severe limb, abdominal and back pain, headache, vomiting, profuse sweating and difficulty breathing.

Without adequate medical care, a sting can lead to heart failure, swelling of the brain and death.

If Your Child Is Stung By An Irukandji Jellyfish

  • Remove your child from the water and call 000 immediately.
  • In the meantime, try to keep your child calm.
  • Pour vinegar on the area of the sting to stop further discharge from the stinging cells. If vinegar is not available, then apply salt water.
  • Do not wash with fresh water, alcohol, sand or urine.

stinging jellyfish

The beach and the ocean provide hours of entertainment and peaceful relaxation. But it’s always important to be aware of the dangers that lurk in the waters and on the beach shores.

Knowing what to do in the event of a sting provides you with a sense of confidence if the event was ever to happen.  And remember, in the event of a sting, staying calm is the best thing you can do for your child.


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