Nicholas A. Buckley, MD; Geoffrey K. Isbister, MD
Which treatments are effective for treating jellyfish stings from species in North America and Hawaii?
Included studies compared interventions for pain relief, prevention of nematocyst discharge, or extrusion of venom from true jellyfish (Cnidaria), box jellyfish, or Physalia species found in North American and Hawaiian waters. Outcomes were pain or erythema from envenomation, discharge of nematocysts, and extrusion of venom.
MEDLINE, EMBASE Excerpta Medica, CINAHL, Cochrane Reviews, Google Scholar, reviews, and reference lists were searched for English-language studies. 19 studies met inclusion criteria; 6 were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (n = 390), all measuring pain outcomes, and are reported in this abstract. 2 RCTs had inadequate randomization, 2 had inadequate blinding, and 2 had low follow-up. No RCTs measured discharge of nematocysts or extrusion of venom, and none studied stings from Chiropsalmus quadrumanus or Chrysaora quinquecirrha.
In general, hot water or application of heat reduced pain from Physalia species and Carybdea alata stings (Table).
Evidence from randomized controlled trials suggests that heat or hot water reduces pain from Physalia species and Carybdea alata jellyfish stings, but few studies were found.
Interventions for reducing pain from jellyfish stings (6 randomized controlled trials)
*Stingose = 20% aluminum sulfate in detergent.
†Sting-Aid = aerolized mixture of water, detergent, and aluminum sulfate.
Buckley NA, Isbister GK. Review: Application of heat or hot water reduces pain from jellyfish stings. Ann Intern Med. ;157:JC6–12. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-157-12-201212180-02012
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2012;157(12):JC6-12.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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