By Chris King • 15 August 2023 • 20:44
Image of Jellyfish.
AS the waters along the coast of Spain heat up during summer, that is a perfect environment for the thousands of bathers who head for the beaches.
However, these warm temperatures also attract the unwanted attention of jellyfish, which thrive in those warm-water conditions. They can sting unsuspecting swimmers or even beachgoers simply paddling in the shallow waters near the shoreline.
Although encounters with jellyfish are rarely fatal, their stings can cause a lot of discomfort and pain. Even if you think you might never meet one of these creatures, it is always good to know what to do in the event of being stung by one.
Stings can be treated with simple measures but the secret is to remain calm after feeling the initial contact. It is of course a normal human reaction to react to any type of pain. Having previously been stung on the thigh by one, I can assure you that it was painful at first.
If there are lifeguards on duty at the location when you get stung then they should know exactly how to deal with the issue.
If there is no help available then washing the affected area with saltwater (preferably from the sea itself) will help to remove any residual jellyfish tentacles that are still stuck to your skin. The use of fresh water should be avoided as this could actually make the release of its venom worse.
If any tentacles are still visibly embedded in the skin after washing then try removing them using tweezers, a credit card, or any similar object you might have with you at the beach, or even in your vehicle.
It is important to be very careful when doing this, to avoid further contact with the tentacles and to reduce the release of venom.
When possible, it is advisable to soak the sting in hot water for around 30 minutes. Obviously, it should not be too hot, to avoid burns, according to the NHS.
Cold water should never be used on the affected area and it must not be covered. The use of vinegar or urine is not recommended although the latter always seems to crop up in conversations about jellyfish stings.
Keep an eye out for any adverse symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, severe swelling, lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness.
If you experience any of these, you should seek medical attention immediately, as they could be signs of an allergic reaction or a more dangerous jellyfish sting.
In some cases, you may want to apply an antiseptic ointment or common painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen to try and relieve the pain and reduce inflammation. You should always consult with a health professional before ever attempting to use any kind of stronger medication.
Most jellyfish stings heal within a few days. During this period, the area should be kept clean and refrain from scratching, to avoid infection. If the bite worsens or shows no signs of improvement after a few days, then you should consult a doctor.
Ana Pinto told EWN: ‘I got bitten on the arm once while swimming in the sea near Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol. It hurt for about three days, it would not stop itching, and I ended up with a horrible rash on my arm for ages afterwards’.
Prevention is key really when swimming in areas that are known for the presence of jellyfish presence. Following the directions of lifeguards located at a beach is always advisable.
You could also try downloading the InfoMedusa app to your mobile. This app was developed in Andalucia and helps users to find out which beaches might have a problem with jellyfish.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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