In all the years of teaching scuba, I’ve only encountered a few tiny flesh wounds from fire coral, but my experience with a jellyfish sting is a different story. Once when in the Grand Cayman, the water turned black with “thimble jellyfish”.
These miniature terrorists resemble a one inch slice of black okra the size of a nickel.
After my encounter , I felt a stinging sensation from my neck to knee. The other people, one of each side of me, were unscathed! Jellyfish sting with barbs, and they continue to sting long after you’ve executed a rapid water departure! The barbs embed a poison into the skin and like poison ivy scratching it, only releases more venom.
I was not the only one affected that day with what is commonly known as “sea bather eruption”. It is so common that island pharmacies stock a special salve for treatment. There were so many unfortunate swimmers that every pharmacy on the island was “sold out” of the salve. I resorted to a home remedie, by soaking in a tub filled with warm oatmeal in attempt to dry up the rash, later dousing my skin in vinegar. Neither worked!
1. Rinse 1st with saltwater, not freshwater
2. If used soon enough, vinegar will cut the sting of the venom
3. Scraping skin with a razor will cut the barbs at the skin’s surface
4. Take Benadryl or Prednisone to arrest skin rash, apply Hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching
5. Avoid scratching; it may spread stinging cells to other skin areas
6. Wash your wetsuit & swimsuits thoroughly in vinegar & soapy water so barbs will wash out
7. Watch out for these little guys May-Sept, especially in the Caribbean
Once you’ve completed the 7 steps above- pour yourself a tall glass of gin, vodka or whiskey, please be careful not to waste this liquid gold on your skin now! Kick back in a chair and make this glass last a good 30 minutes or until the sun dims the sky…If it’s still light outside, repeat the process in this paragraph! Do this until the sun goes down or you do.
I am wondering if other’s experiencing jelly stings are also allergic to poison ivy? That just might be the common denominator.
No Worries! They only float on the surface, not at the depth’s where we dive.
Let’s hear your story!
the scuba lady….