Today we are going to talk about our not-so-friendly-neighbours the Jellyfishes, that visit our shores from time to time.
Jellyfishes are free-swimming, non-aggressive, gelatinous marine animals surrounded by tentacles. These tentacles are covered with sacs that are filled with poison that can cause a painful sting.
Their natural habitat is more than two nautical miles off the shoreline, but what (we saw recently) is what happens when there is little rainfall in spring and the temperatures are very high as they reproduce more, making it more likely that they reach the coast and appear as swarms. In addition, with the ongoing problems of overfishing and pollution which kill-off their natural predators, you have the ideal conditions for a jellyfish invasion.
Jellyfish are usually found near the surface of the water during times of diminished light, floating in the water column, or after washing up on the beach. Jellyfish stings are generally accidental and a relatively common problem for people swimming, wading or diving in seawaters. The long tentacles trailing from the jellyfish body can inject you with venom from thousands of microscopic barbed stingers.
Jellyfish stings vary greatly in severity. Most often they result in immediate pain and red, irritated marks on the skin. Some jellyfish stings may cause more whole-body (systemic) illness. And in very rare cases jellyfish stings are life-threatening.
Common signs and symptoms of jellyfish stings include:
• Burning, prickling, stinging pain
• Red, brown or purplish tracks on the skin — a "print" of the tentacles' contact with your skin
• Tingling and numbness
• Throbbing pain that radiates up a leg or an arm.
Severe jellyfish stings can affect multiple body systems. These reactions may appear rapidly or several hours after the stings. Signs and symptoms of severe jellyfish stings include:
• Nausea and vomiting
• Muscle and joint problems
• Weakness and dizziness
• Loss of consciousness
• Difficulty breathing
• Heart problems
The severity of your reaction depends on:
• The type and size of the jellyfish
• Your age, size and health, with severe reactions more likely in children and people in poor health
• How long you were exposed to the stingers
• How much of your skin is affected
When to see a doctor
Seek emergency treatment if:
• Stings cover large areas of skin
• You have severe symptoms or a serious allergic reaction
• A rash or other skin reaction due to delayed hypersensitivity may be treated with oral antihistamines or corticosteroids.
• A jellyfish sting occurring on or near an eye requires immediate medical care for pain control and a good eye flushing. You will likely be seen by a doctor specializing in eye care (ophthalmologist).
Most stings can be treated with these simple remedies:
• Remove stingers.
• Remove any pieces of jellyfish tentacle in your skin by rinsing the wound with seawater.
• You can also try gently scraping off the stingers with the edge of an ID card or a credit card.
• Avoid getting sand on the wound.
• And don't rinse with fresh water or rub the area with a towel, as these actions may activate more stingers.
• Rinse with vinegar or apply a baking soda paste. Rinse the affected area with vinegar for about 30 seconds. Or apply a paste of baking soda and seawater. Each method may deactivate the stingers of some types of jellyfish.
• Take a hot shower or apply ice packs. Hot water — as hot as you can tolerate but not above 45ºC (113 F) — and ice packs may help ease pain.
• Take a pain reliever and apply lotions. Apply calamine lotion or lidocaine to help relieve itching and discomfort.
Remedies to avoid
These remedies are unhelpful or unproved:
• NEVER USE TAP WATER (this will increase the pain)
• Human urine
• Meat tenderizer
• Solvents, such as formalin, ethanol and gasoline
• Pressure bandages
If you see a Jellyfish always remember to leave the water calmly. If you're stung, get out of the water without splashing much. This helps prevent more stingers from releasing venom.
All the lifeguards at Estepona have remedies to calm down the pain and in case you have an allergic reaction they can call immediately to the ambulance, so be sure you locate the lifeguard before you go to swim.
If you have an Android or Apple phone you can download the free App “infomedusa” that will provide you information of the jellyfish sighting in the beaches of Malaga province.
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