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Entries in Stings (4)

Monday
Jun252012

Jellyfish Stings: Urine and Other Common Remedies May Not Work

Photos.com/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- People who live in jellyfish territory may want to reconsider using traditional remedies to soothe the pain of stings, according to research published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Based on a review of 19 previous studies, researchers found that using hot water and a topical anesthetic are more effective than using urine, vinegar, baking soda and meat tenderizer.

These other treatments, they said, may work with species found outside of North America.

"Some of the remedies promoted by word of mouth and online, such as vinegar, actually make the pain worse with certain species of jellyfish," lead author Dr. Nicholas Ward of the University of California San Diego said in a press release.  "Current evidence suggests hot water and topical lidocaine, which is available at local pharmacies, may be more universally beneficial in treating pain from a jellyfish sting.  Topical lidocaine, a local anesthetic, may also inactivate the stinging cells of the jellyfish, preventing further envenomation."

If hot water and lidocaine are not available, Ward and his colleagues recommend removing the stingers -- called nematocysts -- and washing the area with salt water.

The American Heart Association and American Red Cross recommend the use of vinegar or baking soda followed by the use of heat, but the authors said that based on findings from other studies, vinegar may actually make pain worse and cause the discharge of more venom.

Other proposed treatments, such as deionized water, meat tenderizer and urine didn't seem to soothe the pain, they said.

It has also been recommended that one apply pressure bandages after a jellyfish sting, but studies have not found evidence for or against this remedy.

Although hot water and lidocaine may be more effective than some other treatments, it's not a perfect solution.

"The perfect treatment would be readily available, cheap, capable of inactivating venom and applicable across multiple species of jellyfish," said Ward.  "Until that remedy is discovered, hot water or topical lidocaine may be the best bet for a jellyfish sting in North America or Hawaii."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

Sting of Summer: Protect Yourself from Bites and Burns

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If this Fourth of July is anything like the last national holiday, Memorial Day, families and travelers headed to the beach will want to keep their eyes peeled to the sand and the sun, not just the fireworks-brightened sky.

Beachgoers who braved the Florida coastline Memorial Day weekend were greeted with the wrong kind of bang -- hundreds of painful stings.  Because of steady Atlantic winds, the beaches were swamped with reddish-colored jellyfish, known as mauve stingers, resulting in more than 800 reported stings among the beachgoers.

Now that summer has started, the Florida jellyfish debacle is a sharp reminder of the many stings, burns, nips, bites, and rashes that arise when the temperature heats up and people head outdoors.  ABC News spoke with pediatricians, dermatologists, and emergency medicine experts to pull together a guide to preventing, identifying, and treating the various ills that can accompany your summer fun.

Whether you're headed to the beach or just outside to your backyard, read on to protect yourself from enduring the stings of summer.

When Jellyfish Attack

Although there are many different species of jellyfish throughout the coastal United States, the resulting sting is largely the same.  When you come into contact with a jellyfish, either underwater or when they're beached on land, small barbs in the tentacles catch on your skin and cause red welts.

If you think you've been stung by a jellyfish (and given how painful a jellyfish sting is, you usually know it), the best thing to do is rinse the sting in saltwater, not freshwater, says Dr. Lee Winans, head of the emergency room at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida.

"The little barbs are packets of poison, and if you use freshwater, it will cause them to rupture and make the reaction worse," he says.

Rubbing or patting the area can also cause these packets to rupture, so take a shell or credit card and scrape the barbs off the area while rinsing in the saltwater, says Dr. James Schmidt, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.

Sun Burn vs. Sun Poisoning

We all know we should be wearing sunscreen, but sunburns still happen.  The question is, when is a sunburn more than just a "use some aloe and get some shade" situation?

When sunburn is severe, causing blisters or covering a large part of the body, it can result in sun poisoning -- an extension of heat stroke that is marked by dehydration, fever, and headache.  Sunburn is a form of inflammation, so when a significant area of skin is inflamed, the body reacts to the inflammation with flu-like symptoms, says Dr. Neil Korman, a dermatologist at U.H. Case Medical Center.

The Bite from the Mystery Bug

Bees and hornet stings are usually not problematic unless you are allergic to their sting or if multiple stings are received at once.  Wheezing or excessive swelling around the face or site of sting should be checked out by a doctor immeidately, especially if it seems the person is having an allergic reaction to the sting, says Winans.

As for spider bites, most are harmless, but a few species of poisonous spiders can cause more serious reactions.  In the southern U.S., brown recluse spiders can result in large, painful bites that, left untreated, can lead to loss of a limb.  Unlike normal spider bites, which get better over the course of a few days, poisonous bites will only get worse and the skin around the bite can start to die, says Winans.

Chigger, mosquito, and fire ant bites, while painful and itchy, are benign.  They usually appear as small itchy bumps, or in the case of ant bites, small pus-filled bumps. "Put topical over-the-counter steroid cream on bites, but try not to itch them, that will only open them up to a possible infection," Winans says.

Lyme Disease: Beware the Bull's Eye

A bite from a tick is usually not felt and will not itch, but if the tick is a carrier for Lyme disease, the resulting infection can be severe.  The easiest way to diagnose Lyme disease is by the red ring rash that often, but not always, accompanies a bite by a tick with Lyme.  The "bull's-eye rash" will develop three to 30 days after a bite and will be accompanied by fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you remove a tick from you and experience these symptoms following (even without the rash), see a doctor to get tested for Lyme disease, doctors say, because if not treated with antibiotics, Lyme can cause neurological, joint and cardiac problems over time, says Dr. Korman of U.H. Case Medical Center.

Rash Reaction

Swimmer's itch consists of many small, itchy, slightly painful red bumps that are usually noticed following a swim in the ocean.  Usually, the rash is just another form of a jellyfish sting and results when microscopic jellyfish larva get caught in the fabric of one's swimsuit, says Schmidt.  Swimmer's itch can also be caused by other parasites present in fresh or saltwater.  The rash is benign and can be treated with topical hydrocortisone cream but will otherwise go away on its own, doctors say.

Heat rash is not from contact with any plant or animal but merely the product of skin irritation in damp or sandy conditions, such as wearing a wet bathing suit over an extended period of time.  The red, raised, itchy bumps are sometimes referred to as "prickly heat" and occur when the sweat glands become clogged, says Korman.

Rashes from poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac are par for the course for summertime excursions into wooded areas, and while annoying, are usually not serious.  Approximately 85 percent of the population will develop an allergic reaction if exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun012011

The Sting of Summer: Be Prepared, From Bites to Burns

Photos[dot]com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For those who vacationed on the Florida coastline this Memorial Day, the summer season launched with a bang, or more specifically, with hundreds of stings.

Because of steady Atlantic winds, this past holiday weekend the beaches were swamped with reddish-colored jellyfish, known as mauve stingers, resulting in more than 800 reported stings among the beachgoers.

Though summer has not officially started, the Florida jellyfish debacle is a sharp reminder of the many stings, burns, nips, bites, and rashes that arise during the summer months ahead.  ABC News spoke with pediatricians, dermatologists and emergency medicine experts to pull together a guide to preventing, identifying and treating the various ills that can accompany your summer fun.

When Jellyfish Attack

Although there are many different species of jellyfish throughout the coastal United States, the resulting sting is largely the same.  When you come into contact with a jellyfish, either underwater or when they're beached on land, small barbs in the tentacles catch on your skin and cause red welts.

If you think you've been stung by a jellyfish (and given how painful a jellyfish sting is, you usually know it), the best thing to do is rinse the sting in saltwater, not freshwater, says Dr. Lee Winans, head of the emergency room at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida.

"The little barbs are packets of poison, and if you use freshwater, it will cause them to rupture and make the reaction worse," he says.

Rubbing or patting the area can also cause these packets to rupture, so take a shell or credit card and scrape the barbs off the area while rinsing in the saltwater, says Dr. James Schmidt, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.

Sun Burn vs. Sun Poisoning

We all know we should be wearing sunscreen, but sunburns still happen.  The question is, when is a sunburn more than just a "use some aloe and get some shade" situation?

When sunburn is severe, causing blisters or covering a large part of the body, it can result in sun poisoning -- an extension of heat stroke that is marked by dehydration, fever, and headache.  Sunburn is a form of inflammation, so when a significant area of skin is inflamed, the body reacts to the inflammation with flu-like symptoms, says Dr. Neil Korman, a dermatologist at U.H. Case Medical Center.

The Bite from the Mystery Bug

Bees and hornet stings are usually not problematic unless you are allergic to their sting or if multiple stings are received at once.  Wheezing or excessive swelling around the face or site of sting should be checked out by a doctor immeidately, especially if it seems the person is having an allergic reaction to the sting, says Winans.

As for spider bites, most are harmless, but a few species of poisonous spiders can cause more serious reactions.  In the southern U.S., brown recluse spiders can result in large, painful bites that, left untreated, can lead to loss of a limb.  Unlike normal spider bites, which get better over the course of a few days, poisonous bites will only get worse and the skin around the bite can start to die, says Winans.

Chigger, mosquito, and fire ant bites, while painful and itchy, are benign.  They usually appear as small itchy bumps, or in the case of ant bites, small pus-filled bumps. "Put topical over-the-counter steroid cream on bites, but try not to itch them, that will only open them up to a possible infection," Winans says.

Lyme Disease: Beware the Bull's Eye

A bite from a tick is usually not felt and will not itch, but if the tick is a carrier for Lyme disease, the resulting infection can be severe.  The easiest way to diagnose Lyme disease is by the red ring rash that often, but not always, accompanies a bite by a tick with Lyme.  The "bull's-eye rash" will develop three to 30 days after a bite and will be accompanied by fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you remove a tick from you and experience these symptoms following (even without the rash), see a doctor to get tested for Lyme disease, doctors say, because if not treated with antibiotics, Lyme can cause neurological, joint and cardiac problems over time, says Dr. Korman of U.H. Case Medical Center.

Rash Reaction

Swimmer's itch consists of many small, itchy, slightly painful red bumps that are usually noticed following a swim in the ocean.  Usually, the rash is just another form of a jellyfish sting and results when microscopic jellyfish larva get caught in the fabric of one's swimsuit, says Schmidt.  Swimmer's itch can also be caused by other parasites present in fresh or saltwater.  The rash is benign and can be treated with topical hydrocortisone cream but will otherwise go away on its own, doctors say.

Heat rash is not from contact with any plant or animal but merely the product of skin irritation in damp or sandy conditions, such as wearing a wet bathing suit over an extended period of time.  The red, raised, itchy bumps are sometimes referred to as "prickly heat" and occur when the sweat glands become clogged, says Korman.

Rashes from poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac are par for the course for summertime excursions into wooded areas, and while annoying, are usually not serious.  Approximately 85 percent of the population will develop an allergic reaction if exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

Going to the Beach? Pack Your...Meat Tenderizer?

David De Lossy/Photodisc(BREVARD COUNTY, Fla.) -- Depending on which beach you're visiting, you might want to carry some vinegar or meat tenderizer, just in case you get into a tete-a-tentacles with jellyfish.

Vinegar was the solution of choice this Memorial Day weekend when about 800 stings were reported at Florida beaches, primarily Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach.

Eisen Witcher, Brevard County's assistant ocean lifeguard chief, said that strong, east onshore winds had pushed the jellyfish toward the beaches.  Most people were stung on their ankles, arms and torsos, Witcher said, and there were two cases of allergic reaction in which people had to be transported to a hospital for respiratory issues.

Witcher offered these tips for treating stings:

  • Get out of the water and check respirations. People react to stings differently.
  • Watch for swelling.
  • Rinse area with vinegar solution or a meat tenderizer.
  • Scrape away tentacle or residual stingers.
  • And about that whole "urine cures jellyfish stings" myth: Witcher advised against it because urine actually carries a low ammonia content, which won't reduce pain as effectively as the other remedies.


Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio