A sting or bite from any form of marine life, especially salt-water dwellers, may cause this injury.
The most common signs and symptoms of a marine animal sting or bite are: painstingingswellingrednessnumbnessrashitching
Less common symptoms that may occur include: weaknessnausea and vomitingheadachemuscle pain and spasmsrunny eyes and noseexcessive sweatingchest pain
Injury can be caused by bites or stings from many types of marine life, including a: jellyfish (including the Portuguese Man-of-War)stingraystonefishscorpion fishcatfishlionfishsea urchinsea anemonehydroidmoray eelelectric eelsharkbarracuda
There are many ways to prevent getting a marine animal sting or bite. A person should: wear protective clothing or water shoesnot run into the water or dive in head-firstsupervise children when they enter the watersplash or shuffle the feet when entering the water to ward off stingraysnot touch unfamiliar marine animals no matter how attractive they arenot swim with open woundsnot wear bright, shiny clothing, jewelry, or equipment while swimming
It is safest to swim at patrolled beaches. If an injury does occur despite precautions, a lifeguard or ranger may be able to help.
Sudden pain is usually the first sign of a marine animal bite or sting. A swimmer may notice a jellyfish floating nearby, or feel a stingray or sea urchin beneath the foot.
Treatment varies depending on what caused the injury.
Jellyfish, hydroids and anemones have tentacles that stick to the skin. These should be removed. If possible, vinegar may be applied to inactivate the stinging cells, called nematocysts.
Once inactivated, the tentacles should be gently lifted from the skin. The sting site should then be washed with soap and water. Afterward, a hydrocortisone cream may be applied to the skin.
The venom of scorpion fish, lionfish, stonefish, catfish, stingrays, and sea urchins produce severe pain at the bite site. Because the venom is a protein that is broken down quickly by heat, the wound area should be immersed in water as hot as can be tolerated. The area should be left in the hot water for 60 to 90 minutes while the victim is transmitted to a medical facility.
Pieces of spines or fins are often left broken inside the skin during the sting. The person should remove these with a gloved hand. If they are unable to remove them, they should have a healthcare professional remove them with an instrument. The wound should be cleansed well with soap and water, and an antibiotic ointment applied.
Sharks, moray eels, and barracudas can injure the skin with their teeth. These animals do not have venom or poison. The wound should be cleansed with soap and water, and may need sutures. It should be examined to be sure that it is free of debris.
A person may be given: a tetanus booster (using the DTaP vaccine) if he or she has not had one within the previous 3-5 yearsantibiotics if infection is present
Pain can usually be controlled with acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (i.e., Advil, Motrin). Sometimes stronger pain medication is required.
A tetanus shot may cause tenderness at the injection site.
Antibiotics may cause: stomach upsetdiarrheaallergic reaction to the medication
Pain relievers may cause stomach upset.
The injured person may feel pain for many hours after the sting or bite. The wound should be watched closely for signs of infection. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, drainage at the site, and a fever. These signs should be reported to a healthcare professional. Usually there are no long-term effects after a marine bite or sting. Occasionally a marine bite can cause death, especially with a Portuguese Man-of-War sting.
The Merck Manual of Medical Information : Home Edition, 1997