Stingray Stings: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Stingray stings are caused by the venomous whip-like tails

containing sharp spines of the sea animal, stingray. When their tail is whipped up, it means that the stinger on their tail is ready to attack any potential predators. Their stings are very painful to their victims. Humans are usually stung in the lower limbs, usually when they accidentally step on a stingray. There is a way to avoid stingray stings, which will be further discussed later. Majority of these stings are not fatal to humans but there are known cases of massive trauma caused by stings from stingrays, such as in the case of the famous “Crocodile Hunter,” Steve Irwin. Stingray stings are one of the most common dive and beach-related injuries.

Symptoms of Stingray Stings

                The following are the common symptoms one experiences in stingray stings:

  • Skin
    • Sharp, immediate pain felt most after one to two hours after the sting (which may last for as long two days)
    • Bleeding
    • Swelling
    • Sweating
    • Redness and blue coloring around the wound
    • Swollen lymph nodes near area of the sting
    • Airways and lungs
      • Difficulty in breathing
      • Gastrointestinal tract
        • Nausea and vomiting
        • Diarrhea
        • Heart and blood
          • Increased heart rate
          • Decreased blood pressure
          • Others
            • Cramps all over the body
            • Fainting
            • Weakness
            • Paralysis
            • Tremors
            • Headache
            • Fever and chills
            • Seizures
            • In extreme cases, death.

Treatment for Stingray Stings

First Aid Training Room

First Aid Training Room

The first important thing to do is to remove the casualty from water. It is necessary to keep the casualty calm and to reassure him/ her. The following guidelines are to be treated as hints and do not substitute medical treatment or first aid training. First aid training includes recognition of symptoms and hands on training which can be taught by many institutions such as workplace approved to teach proper treatment for medical scenarios such as stingray stings and other animal-related injuries.

  • Have someone call emergency medical services while administering first aid.
  • After removing the casualty from water, rinse the sting with copious amounts of fresh water.
  • To relive it from pain, soak the wound in hot water, the hottest possible temperature the casualty can tolerate.
  • To remove the stingers, use tweezers.
  • Wash the wound with fresh water and soap.
  • Apply direct pressure on the wound to cease the bleeding. Do not cover the wound with tape or close it.
  • If signs of infection are present, apply topical antibiotic ointment.
  • If necessary, initiate CPR.

How to Prevent Stingray Stings

Stingrays generally do not attack aggressively nor defend themselves actively. Stingrays only sting when they get stepped on or when they feel that they are threatened. More often than not, their initial reaction when threatened is to swim away. Therefore, stings from stingrays are preventable.

  • If one sees a stingray, avoid it.
  • Stingray Shuffle

Shuffle the feet to send off vibrations to cause the stingray to swim away avoiding any risk for stingray sting.


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