Stingray Injury

Summertime is upon us and so are the beach’s resident stingrays, which make their annual appearance
from April to October to mate.

Stingrays are by nature docile creatures. They’re known for relaxing motionless near the beach shores,
where they lie camouflaged under a layer of sand. It’s only when they feel threatened (such as when
accidentally stepped on) that they defensively swing their venomous stingers in hopes of striking an
attacker with hours of searing pain.

Locals know to shuffle their feet in the surf in order to disperse these creatures, but what should you do if
struck?

First, as difficult as it may sound (and as excruciating as the pain may be)…don’t panic. Stingray injuries
are usually self-limiting wounds.

Depending on the severity of the wound, one may need a variety of treatments. One may need an X-Ray
to detect a barb under the skin, a tetanus shot or antibiotics. Professional medical care at an urgent care
center or emergency room is always best since different individuals react differently to a stingray’s barb’s
toxins; however, there are first aid measures one can take immediately.

Pain and swelling from a stingray injury normally lasts for 24 to 48 hours. Soaking the affected area in
the hottest water tolerable for 1 to 2 hours is the most effective treatment for stingray injuries. This may
be repeated as necessary since heat denatures the protein contained in the venom, thus it inactivating it
while easing the pain.

Clean the wound with soap and fresh water to prevent infection. One may gently remove any small,
visible remaining fragments of the stinger only if doing so does not cause further damage. Applying
pressure to the wound will also aid in minimizing any bleeding.

Motrin and Tylenol may also be taken for the discomfort.

Lastly, always go to your nearest emergency room should a stingray barb strike you in the neck, chest,
or abdomen or in the case of a severe allergic reaction (faintness, difficulty breathing, vomiting and pulse
irregularities).