Jellyfish advice from NHS 24

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With jellyfish numbers starting to increase over the last few months as coastal waters warm up people are being warned to expect ‘jellyfish soup’ off Scottish beaches.

NHS 24 Medical Director, Professor George Crooks, OBE is urging anyone brave enough to venture into the sea off Scotland’s beautiful coastline to be prepared and seek advice on dealing with marine life stings from the Health Library at www.nhsinform.co.uk.

Dr Crooks said: “Jellyfish tentacles are covered with small poisonous sacs called nematocysts which, if touched, produce a nasty sting.

“If you are unfortunate enough to be stung, the most important thing to remember is not to rinse the wound in fresh water and not to rub it or apply ice – even if the area feels hot. You should try to soak the affected are in vinegar for 15-30 minutes and if vinegar is not available, use alcohol or sea water.”

Professor Crooks added “If you are walking along the beach, be careful not to touch jellyfish that have been washed onto the shore. They can still be poisonous so try to keep curious kids and dogs away from them.”

Advice for dealing with jellyfish stings:

- Remove any tentacles with tweezers, or a clean stick (wear gloves if they are available).

- Apply shaving cream to the affected area and use a razor blade, or a credit card, to remove any nematocysts (small poisonous sacs) that are stuck to the skin.

- If the eyes are affected, they should be rinsed with a saline (salt) solution, such as artificial tears, and dabbed with a towel that has been soaked in vinegar. Do not apply vinegar directly to the eyes.

- Stings to the mouth should be treated with a watery vinegar solution. Mix a quarter of a cup of vinegar with three quarters of a cup of water, and gargle with the solution before spitting it out. Do not swallow the solution.

- Pain and swelling can be treated with painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Children under 16 years of age should not take aspirin.