Marine Stings and Scrapes - Topic Overview
Seabather's eruption is a rash that develops from the stings of jellyfish or sea
anemone larvae. The rash can be quite itchy and annoying, but it usually goes away
without medical treatment in 10 to 14 days.
(hydrozoans) live in warm seas throughout the world but are most common in the
tropical and subtropical regions of the Pacific and Indian oceans and in the
Gulf Stream of the North Atlantic Ocean. They float on the surface of the water
with their long, stinging tentacles trailing in the water below. Detached
tentacles that wash up on the beach may remain dangerous for months.
Portuguese man-of-war stings produce immediate burning pain and redness
where the tentacles touched the skin. The affected area develops a red line
with small white lesions. In severe cases, blisters and welts that look like a
string of beads may appear. Stings that involve the eye may cause pain,
swelling, excessive tears, blurred vision, or increased sensitivity to light.
Severe reactions are most likely to occur in children and small adults. Severe
toxic reactions to the venom can also occur.
Stingrays are members of the shark family. They have sharp spines in their tails that can cause cuts or puncture wounds. The spines also have venom. Stingrays do not bite but can suck with their mouths and leave a bruise.
Coral scrapes and cuts are common
injuries that may occur when you walk on a beach or swim, snorkel, or dive in
warm water. Coral polyps, the soft living material that covers the surface of
coral, can be easily torn away from the rigid and abrasive structure underneath
if you touch, bump, or fall on coral. A
skin infection may develop when small pieces of coral,
other debris, and bacteria get inside the wound. Scrapes and cuts from
sharp-edged coral may take weeks or even months to heal.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.