Sea Doctor: Treating Bluebottle Stings

Bluebottles inhabit waters throughout Australia and are often found in swarms. The sting causes immediate pain, usually lasting about 30 minutes, with typical oval-shaped blanched wheals and surrounding redness of the skin. To treat a sting:

1- Pick off any adherent tentacles with fingers (this has been shown not to be harmful to the rescuer). Don’t rub the stung area.

2- Rinse stung area well with seawater to remove invisible stinging cells.

3- Place the casualty’s stung area in hot water (no hotter than the rescuer can comfortably tolerate). If possible, soak for 10-20 minutes.

4- If local pain is unrelieved by heat, or if hot water is not available, apply a cold pack or wrapped ice for pain relief.

For stings that cover a particularly large area, or across the throat and face, call triple zero (in Australia).

References: “Australian First Aid” book by St John Ambulance Australia; museum.wa.gov.au; australianmuseum.com.au; and australiangeographic.com.au.

Published by Karina Teuma

karinateuma.com Karina Teuma is a Passionate Marine Biology Enthusiast, Environmentalist, Snorkeller, Freediver, Scuba Diver and more.

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