The sighting in Cornish waters of a giant ‘lid’ jellyfish about the size of a human has raised the alarm on possible risks for humans. From the experts of the Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital in Rome come the answers to some questions and some advice on what to do in case of contact with these charming marine animals, composed mostly of water and capable of irritating our skin.
“The jellyfish does not sting, nor does it bite – the doctors point out – Its tentacles emit one skin stinging substance, which causes painful skin irritation, swelling and redness. To have this skin reaction, it is not necessary to be touched by the jellyfish: you just need to come into contact with the stinging liquid that it releases through its filaments “.
- What do you feel in contact with the jellyfish?
“At the first contact between the skin and the jellyfish, the baby perceives a strong burning and pain – the experts reply – Immediately afterwards the skin becomes irritated, turns red, and small wheals (swelling of the skin) appear, such as hives. The burning sensation begins to subside after 10-20 minutes. Then the baby begins to feel intense itching. If an area larger than 50% of the child’s body is affected, the intensity of pain and burning can become unbearable. “
- What to do in case of contact?
“The first thing to do is soothe the baby and let him breathe normally. If you are close to the shore, get him out of the water – the doctors of the Holy See hospital warn – If you are offshore, support the child and call attention to get help, especially if the companion has also come. in contact with the jellyfish. First check that they are not there parts of jellyfish stuck to the skin and, if necessary, gently remove them with your hands. If you do not have medicines, it may be useful to run sea water on the affected part to try to dilute the toxic substance that has not yet penetrated “.
- How should the irritated part be treated?
“The correct medication consists inapplication of aluminum chloride astringent gel – suggests the Child Jesus – The astringent gel has an immediate anti-itch action and blocks the spread of toxins. Unfortunately, the habit of carrying this gel with you, which is also useful for mosquito bites, is not yet widespread in Italy. In the absence of this ointment, one can be used cortisone cream even if it has a more delayed effect (they come into action after 20-30 minutes from the application), that is when the maximum of the reaction should already be naturally extinguished “. Also necessary”avoid scratching or rubbing the sand on the painful area. And do not use impromptu medications with ammonia, vinegar, alcohol or lemon juice: they would make the situation worse “.
- But when should we worry?
“If immediately after contact, the skin reaction spreads and appear breathing difficulties, paleness, sweating and disorientation, call 118 and explain what it is: you will receive instructions on what to do while waiting for the first aid staff to arrive “, the doctors remark. The area of skin affected by the jellyfish remains sensitive to sunlight and tends to darken quickly. “To prevent the skin from getting stained, it is good to avoid antihistamine ointments and it is necessary to keep the affected area covered, or well protected by a sunscreen, until the inflammatory ration disappears (no more than two weeks)”, he concludes. the Child Jesus.