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Marine Animal Bite or Sting


A marine animal bite or sting happens when you are poisoned or bitten by an animal that lives in salt water. Marine animals that bite include barracudas, moray eels, and sharks. Portuguese man-of-war, jellyfish, and sea anemones are some of the animals that inject poison through their tentacles when they come in contact with a person's skin. Broken tentacles can still sting for weeks or months after being separated from the animal, even if they are dried. Stingrays and sea urchins are some of the other marine animals that sting using their spines and barbs.



  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent another marine animal bite or sting:

  • Check the water before entering it. Do not dive or run when going into the water.
  • Do not go into areas where jellyfish, even if dead, have been seen. Always read and follow signs.
  • Do not touch marine life that you do are not familiar with. Do not put your hands or fingers into holes or crevices. Stay clear of swimming stingrays.
  • Do not wear bright, shiny objects.
  • Supervise children when they go in or near the water.
  • Swim at beaches with lifeguards. Do not swim alone or on faraway beaches. Do not swim with open wounds.
  • Wear something to protect your feet. Do not walk on rocky areas if you cannot see what is in the water where you walk. Shuffle your feet when walking in shallow waters.


Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.

Wound care:

  • Wash your hands before and after you care for your wound to prevent infection.
  • Clean your wound with mild soap and water, and pat dry. Do this as often as ordered by your healthcare provider. If you cannot reach the wound, have someone help you.
  • Carefully check the wound and the area around it. Watch out for any swelling, redness, or fluid oozing out of it. If there is bleeding, you may apply gentle pressure.
  • Cover your wound with a clean gauze bandage. If the bandage should be wrapped around your arm or leg, wrap it snugly but not too tight. It is too tight if you feel tingling or lose feeling in that area.
  • Keep the bandage clean and dry.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have a skin rash, itching, or swelling after taking your medicine.
  • You have tingling in the area of the bite or sting.
  • You have pain or problems moving the injured part or get tender lumps in your groin or armpits.
  • You have questions about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You are having trouble talking, walking, or breathing.
  • You have double vision, slurred speech, drooling, muscle cramps or convulsions.
  • You have swelling, numbness, or cannot move the arm or leg below the injury.
  • You have tightness in your throat, wheezing when you breathe, swollen tongue, or rashes over your body.
  • Your pain is the same or worse even after taking medicine.
  • Your wound does not stop bleeding even after you apply pressure.
  • Your wound or bandage has pus or a bad smell, even if you clean it every day.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Marine Animal Bite or Sting (Aftercare Instructions)

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