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Marine Stings and Scrapes - Prevention

You can limit your risk of being injured by jellyfish, a Portuguese man-of-war, or coral.

  • Be familiar with the marine risks in the area where you plan to swim, snorkel, or dive. If you are traveling, obtain information about the local conditions.
  • Be prepared with first aid supplies that might be needed for a injury.
  • Watch for warning signs that are posted when there is a jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-war invasion.
  • Do not touch jellyfish, Portuguese man-of-wars, or coral.
  • Watch out for jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-wars in the water, particularly when there are strong onshore winds.
  • Stay out of the water when jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-wars are present. Look out for the bluish floats of the Portuguese man-of-war, and avoid the poisonous trailing tentacles.
  • Watch for beached jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-wars. Their tentacles may still sting.
  • Do not rely on clothing or on coating the skin with petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) to prevent stings. Wear a wet suit to reduce your risk of getting stung. A wet suit is a close-fitting, one- or two-piece suit, usually made of rubber or foam neoprene. Swimmers, snorkelers, divers, kayakers, and other people who spend time in cold water may wear wet suits for warmth and protection.
  • Wear protective shoes when walking on the beach. Avoid stepping on marine life.
  • Avoid swimming or snorkeling in swallow water, where touching or bumping into coral might occur.
  • Wash your swimsuit with detergent and heat-dry after use. This will kill the stinging larvae that cause seabather's eruption.
  • Talk to your doctor about carrying epinephrine if you have had any sort of allergic reaction or severe reaction to a marine sting in the past. Learn how and when to give yourself an epinephrine shot, and have it near you at all times.
  • Consider using a topical jellyfish sting inhibitor lotion, such as Safe Sea.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 11, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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