|MadSci Network: Medicine
Hi..Sorry this took so long...The toxin injected when you are stung is made up of a VERY complex soup of proteins that cause allergic reactions within the recipients system. Living near the Chesapeake bay often gives me first hand experience with Sea nettles. The sting of a Sea nettle though painful is seldom life threatening. The stinging jellyfish which makes the Chesapeake Bay so inhospitable in the summer is the sea nettle, Chtysaora quinquecirrha. While sea nettles occur from Cape Cod south along the U.S. East Coast, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico they inhabit the Bay in numbers unequaled elsewhere. They are found most abundantly in the tributaries of the middle Bay where salinities are between 10 and 20 parts per thousand. At those salinities, they are white in color. In the southern Bay, where salinities are higher, they often have red/maroon markings on the long central tentacles and on the swimming bell, or medusa. The tentacles of the sea nettle contain millions of microscopic stinging cells called nematocysts that inject toxins to capture and paralyze prey as well as to defend the jellyfish from would-be predators. When a swimmer brushes against a tentacle, the resulting sting is painful and annoying. Lightweight protective clothing, like a Lycra "swim skin" or panty hose, or a layer of petroleum jelly spread on bare skin will protect a swimmer against stings. There are several things that you can do if you get stung. If bits or pieces of tentacles are still on the skin, pour alcohol or baby powder on the area. Alcohol will stabilize the nematocyst so that it will not be triggered. Powders do the same by drying the cells out. Without such treatment, tentacles which are disturbed may release additional nematocysts, causing additional irritation and swelling. Next, apply diluted ammonia, sodium bicarbonate, vinegar or meat tenderizer to the area to relieve pain. Meat tenderizer is one of the best sources of relief from stings. Add a small amount of water to the meat tenderizer to make a paste and smear it on the inflamed area. Meat tenderizer is an enzyme which breaks down proteins. Jellyfish venom is made of protein and is consequently destroyed by the meat tenderizer. The active ingredient in the meat tenderizer seems to be papain. I have a friend that has used a slice of papaya on stings and swears that relief is almost instantaneous..how many people run around with a papaya in their pocket. Hope this has been of some help...Mark
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