How to Treat a Cyaena (Lion’s mane) Jellyfish Sting in HK

Ouch! It’s the time of year when HK waters are visited by jellyfish of the genus Cyaena also known as the lion’s mane. Although I have written a previous post about the lion’s mane, I realised that I gave no advice on treating stings from this jelly. As last weekend both my kids got stung, I have learnt a thing or two from the experience!

This image from About.com closely resembles what a typical Cyaena sting looks like.

Cyaena nozakii (Lion’s mane) at Star Ferry Pier in Central

Obviously much depends on where you get stung and how big an area of sting there is, but here is some basic advice on dealing with the stings:

– urinating on the sting is absolute nonsense (I knew that already). If anything the person urinating is only adding to the problem causing possible secondary infection! Lemon juice is also ineffective.

The widespread but misguided belief that urine will counteract jellyfish stings is perpetuated in this scene from the TV show “Friends” where Monica gets stung and her husband Chandler has to pee on her. Funny but not true.
– vinegar is only effective for some species e.g. the deadly box jelly (Chironex fleckeri). Jellyfish have been around for over 500 million years making different jellyfish groups as genetically different from each other as humans are from squid (appearances are deceiving). What works for one jellyfish type, does not necessarily work for others.

– the best thing to do is to rinse the sting with warm – preferably sterile – saline solution. If that’s not available use warm seawater, just make sure there are no more stinging tentacles in the water your using! Whatever you do, DO NOT RINSE WITH FRESHWATER OR BOTTLED WATER! This could shock the remaining stinging cells causing them to fire more venom and make things worse!

 

Salt water , NOT urine is the best thing to use for a sting.

– if rinsing with salt water is not feasible or ineffective at removing tentacles, use pliers, or even your finger pads (safe) or a credit card to remove the tentacles.

– young are more sensitive to stings and should be taken to a doctor or a hospital A&E department. Don’t take chances.

if the sting is on the face especially mouth, nose or eyes, or if you ingested any stinging tentacles, go to the hospital A&E as soon as possible! This is dangerous: swelling of the sting can cause breathing problems or eye damage. sting on the genitals (male or female) is also serious and needs medical attention. genital sting can cause urinary track blockages from swelling, which is dangerous! So no skinny-dipping or letting kids play naked  in the water – at least from March to September.

Try to avoid getting stung in the first place (duh!). Wear rash vests, wet suits or similar protection…your dermatologist will thank you, because you will be avoiding skin-cancer inducing sun burns. Be safe and have a good summer!

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you for the information.
    I get stung today by the same kind of pink jellyfish. now i know i was stung by what kind of jellyfish.

  2. My son was stung by a jellyfish at St Stephens beach near Stanley in June. The life guards only had vinegar to apply. Fortunately he was wearing a rash vest but still managed to get stung on the neck and arm. It is obviously not a common occurrence as there were no signs advising to be careful of jellyfish.

    1. This happens very frequently in HK but the majority of stings are from Cyaena which is non-fatal and easy to spot unlike the deadly box jellies of Australia which are very small and colourless. Glad your son is fine. It’s only serious when it’s on the face or genitals.

  3. Hi, Just reading this – super helpful! I got stung on the back of my leg in Clearwater Bay about 10 days ago. The red marks haven’t faded. Any ideas on how long these scars last? I read some kinds of stings can last up to 24 months 😦

  4. Hi, I’m a reporter looking for more information on the Lion’s Mane jellyfish in Hong Kong, for a story. Would you be available to chat by email or phone? Finding local experts on jellyfish is proving difficult. Thanks!

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