Jellyfish and other sea creature stings


If you're going to swim in the sea, there are things you can do to avoid being stung and ensure you have easy access to medical care.

For example, you can:

  • observe warning signs on the beach – warning signs are often put up after sightings of groups of jellyfish or Portuguese men-of-war
  • swim near a lifeguard – if you're stung, you'll usually need immediate first aid or, in severe cases, a means of contacting an ambulance
  • don't touch or handle stinging sea creatures – avoid touching jellyfish or Portuguese men-of-war washed up on the beach, because their tentacles can sting, even when they're dead
  • wear protective clothing, such as a wetsuit or waterproof footwear – as weever fish, stingrays and sea urchins are often found in shallow water, wearing rubber-soled shoes or sandals will help protect your feet while in shallow water or rocky areas; wearing a wetsuit will help protect against jellyfish stings if you're swimming in deeper water for prolonged periods
  • scuff your feet when walking in shallow water – this will disturb and scare off any stinging sea creatures that may be in your path
  • take care when walking in rocky areas or near seaweed – sea urchins are often found in shallow, rocky areas, such as rock pools

First aid training and kit

If you spend a considerable amount of time in the sea, it's a good idea to get some basic first aid training and to carry a basic first aid kit with you.

The kit should contain items useful for treating sea creature stings, such as a pair of gloves, tweezers, a saline (salt) solution and painkillers.

If you're allergic to insect stings, you should carry appropriate medication with you, such as an adrenaline injection kit. Make sure the people you're with are aware of your allergy and know how to administer the medication, in case you're unable to do it yourself.

Page last reviewed: 05/05/2015
Next review due: 01/05/2018