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Bluebottle jellyfish sting

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Bluebottle jellyfish are common along the southeastern beaches of Australia and often sting bathers. Typically, these stings resolve with little intervention, but there are some self-care treatments that can help speed up the process.

More information

Bluebottles are recognized by their characteristic blue translucent appearance and are the leading cause of jellyfish stings in the world. The sting is immediately painful and leaves a distinctive ribbon-like sting across the skin. The sting is caused by venom darts lining the tentacles that deploy on contact. Depending on the site affected, the stings can be very painful, but this will usually fade within an hour or two. The sting eruption can last for a few days. Bluebottle stings are not contagious and can't be passed on to others.

How can I calm symptoms?

Start with rinsing the sting in seawater and ensuring all tentacles are removed. Next, put the affected skin in warm water, about 110 degrees F, for 20 minutes. This serves to partially break down the toxin and dilutes the intensity of pain from the sting. Applying an ice pack is an alternative. Although there is some suggestion that the application of vinegar may be useful for box jellyfish stings, it's not helpful with bluebottle stings and may even worsen the pain.

When should I see my doctor?

It is best to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms of a wider generalized reaction to the sting. Symptoms such as vomiting, sweating, palpations, swelling, dizziness, or collapse should prompt urgent assessment and likely a call to the emergency services.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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