Beat the blues: How to treat bluebottle stings

Kinderling News & Features

It’s not an Australian summer unless you see blue blobs dotting the beach at least once. Cue the dancing and dodging as you and your entire family try to avoid a painful sting on the toe.

There are over 10,000 cases of bluebottle stings in Australia each year, so many of us have been unfortunate enough to experience the pain that comes with these brightly coloured tentacles. As a result, many wives’ tales have arisen as treatment, including washing it in vinegar or urine, rubbing the sting with sand, even dowsing it with warm beer!

How do you really treat a bluebottle sting and reduce the resulting pain? These are some treatment tips from 13SICK, National Home Doctor Service for your next trip to the beach:

1. Do not panic. The sting will hurt, but try to remain calm. Do not rub the sting area as this could make it worse.

2. Immediately after a bluebottle sting, remove any remaining tentacles. This should be done wearing gloves and using tweezers if possible, to avoid further stings.

3. Rinse the area well with seawater. Washing the area with vinegar is not recommended.

4. Immerse the stung area in hot water (45 degrees Celsius if possible, but not warmer than tolerable) for at least 20 minutes. If this isn’t possible, direct a hot shower on the area for the same amount of time.

5. If heat does not relieve the pain, or if hot water is not available, apply an ice pack to help.

6. Seek immediate help if the sting area is on the face, neck or is larger than half a limb. Call an ambulance (000) immediately, especially if the patient shows signs of an allergic reaction, such as tightness in the chest or breathing difficulties.

7. If there is continuing pain, itchiness or blistering on the skin, see your GP urgently. If your GP is closed, call 13SICK (that’s 13 7425) for a bulk-billed, doctor home visit.