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How To Treat a Stingray Sting

By

Updated January 23, 2014

Stingrays

Beautiful, but they can hurt pretty bad

© Mike Johnston

If you manage to surprise a stingray and get stung, you are likely to have a very painful reaction. There is little known about the toxin in a stingray sting, other than it is protein based and can be dangerous.

Symptoms of Stingray Stings

  • extreme pain (can last as long as two days)
  • bleeding
  • swelling around the wound
  • redness or blue coloring around the wound
  • dizziness
  • muscle cramps or weakness
  • seizures
  • irregular pulse
  • low blood pressure
If you suspect a stingray sting, follow these steps.

 

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: N/A

Here's How:

  1. Stay Safe. Don't panic. Stingrays sting to scare us away. The sting is painful, but not very harmful. Victims should make their way back to the safety of shore by shuffling their feet (so they won't be stung again).

     

  2. Call 911. The victim of a stingray sting will need medical attention. Stingray stings are very painful and victims will at a minimum need medication for pain control. Follow universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if you have it.

     

  3. Control any bleeding and follow basic first aid steps while waiting for the ambulance.

     

  4. Clean the wound with soap and fresh, clean water.

     

  5. Remove small parts or barbs of the stinger with tweezers or pliers. Only remove stingers if emergency medical care will be significantly delayed. A long stinger would be considered an impaled object. DO NOT REMOVE STINGERS FROM THE CHEST OR ABDOMEN!

    Removing stingers can lead to severe bleeding. Remember to control bleeding from any tissue damage.

     

  6. If medical care will be significantly delayed, some of the toxin may be neutralyzed by immersing the cleaned wound in fresh, hot water (110 - 113 degrees Farenheit) or by placing towels soaked in hot water on the wound. Be careful not to make the water too hot and scald (burn) the victim.

     

Tips:

  1. There are approximately 1,500 stingray stings in the United States every year. Spread out over all the beach visits in a typical year, stingray stings are pretty rare. The conventional wisdom says to shuffle your feet to let the stingrays know you're coming. Of course, you're probably more likely to stub your toe on a rock than to step on a stingray.
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