Stingray Sting: What to do Immediately After Getting Stung by a Stingray
Please note: we’re not medical experts and these perspectives are informed from our research, conversations with experts, and experience with stingrays. You should always connect with your healthcare provider for making any decisions related to your health.
If you just got stung, there are some immediate steps you can take depending on where the sting is and how bad the sting is.–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
If the stingray sting is near a critical organ like the heart or lung or a blood vessel, GoodRx Health recommends to immediately seek medical attention since this can be life threatening.
Similarly, WebMD recommends to seek immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Tightening of the throat
- Breathing difficulties
These are signs that you could be having an allergic reaction to the stingray’s venom.–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
If you’re not experiencing these symptoms and the stingray sting is in a less critical area like the foot, these are some things you can do to help alleviate the pain and help the wound heal properly.
- If the barb did not stick in the wound you can skip to step 2. If the barb is still in the wound and superficial (not deeply in), different sources give different advice on what to do. WebMD suggests removing the barb while in the water to help clean the wound with the salt water. On the other hand, if the barb is not superficial GoodRx Health recommends to keep the barb in and have it removed by a medical professional.
- Once the barb has been removed, GoodRx Health recommends washing the wound with fresh water to clean out bacteria from the wound. Cleaning the wound is critical since it is at risk for getting infected.
- Some evidence suggests soaking the foot in hot water can help reduce the pain by ‘denaturing’ the venom. Healthline recommends soaking the wound in hot water for 30-90 minutes. Ideally the temperature of the water should be 110°F to 115°F and the water should be changed every 10 minutes to keep it hot. Though the water needs to be hot, you should also be very careful to avoid burning your foot.
- After soaking the wound in hot water, WebMD suggests cleaning the wound with soap and water and applying dressing to the wound without taping it closed.
After the sting, you should consider going to an emergency room. There, they’ll most likely help by:
- Conducting an X-Ray to make sure there are no parts of the barb still in the wound
- Prescribing antibiotics if they think there is risk of infection
- Prescribing pain relievers
According to the Merck Manual the greatest intensity of a stingray sting’s pain happens within the first 90 minutes of the stingray sting. They go on to say that, in most cases, the pain will gradually diminish over 6 to 48 hours but, occasionally the pain can last longer–up to weeks.We’re so sorry you were stung and we hope it heals quickly! For tips on how to avoid getting stung in the future you can check out our blog post on how to avoid getting stung by a stingray.