Marine sting advice from NHS 24

There are harmless blue ringed moon jellyfish swarming at Ullapool, but also more harmful blue jellyfish and the red lion's mane - seen to the left of this photo. Pic: N Hawkins, Summer Queen Cruises, Ullapool
There are harmless blue ringed moon jellyfish swarming at Ullapool, but also more harmful blue jellyfish and the red lion's mane - seen to the left of this photo. Pic: N Hawkins, Summer Queen Cruises, Ullapool

A report by the Marine Conservation Society this week has warned that jellyfish sightings off UK waters could reach a record high this year.

Scotland’s national telehealth and telecare organisation, NHS 24, is advising people to be prepared and to seek advice on dealing with marine life stings.

NHS 24 Medical Director Professor George Crooks said: “Jellyfish are mushroom-shaped creatures that often float near the surface of the sea.

“Not all jellyfish sting but some of them have long, thin tentacles that trail underneath them. These tentacles are covered with small poisonous sacs which can produce a nasty sting if touched.”

He continued: “If you are unfortunate enough to be stung, most jellyfish stings are mild and don’t require treatment, or you can treat them yourself.

“Any remaining tentacles should be removed using tweezers or a clean stick (wear gloves if they’re available). Applying an ice pack to the affected area will help reduce pain and inflammation.

“Remember that vinegar is no longer recommended for treating jellyfish stings because it may make things worse by activating unfired stinging cells,” Professor Crooks said.

“The use of other substances, such as alcohol and baking soda, should also be avoided. Applying shaving cream to the affected area will help prevent the spread of toxins.

“However, dial 999 if there are severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or if a large or sensitive area of the body such as the face or genitals has been stung.”

Professor Crooks added: “The best prevention is to try and avoid jellyfish. 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.”

For further information on stings from marine creatures go to the Health Library at www.nhsinform.co.uk