Search

Whether you live just minutes away or need to hop on a plane to get there, your summer plans may include a trip to the beach. While the beach is great for sun and surf, it’s always important to remember that the ocean poses unique health risks.

1. Man-of-war and jellyfish—Your child may be attracted to the bluish balloon-like creature with stringy tentacles floating in the water or lying innocently on the sand, but beware. Even a washed-up jellyfish can still sting. And while most stings are self-limiting, they can be painful and cause a local reaction of swelling and redness at the site. Oral antihistamines and a topical steroid cream can be used to calm the itching and burning under the guidance of your child’s pediatrician.

2. Starfish and sea urchins—Both can cause puncture wounds from their sharp spines if stepped on. To protect your child, be sure they wear waterproof shoes in the water.

3. Fish bites/stings—Whether it is lionfish, stonefish, or a variety of other exotic species, there are some fish that sting by releasing venom through their powerful spines. Seek medical attention immediately if you think your child has been stung. When traveling, it is a good idea to ask locals what types of sea creatures to avoid.

4. Stingrays—A stingray’s tail has barbed stingers with venom-containing grooves. If the tail gets too close to your child, it may cause traumatic wounds. While stingrays don’t usually attack humans, they frequently cause accidental injuries. Seek medical attention right away, as symptoms can include fainting, GI upset, muscle cramps, and even seizures.

5. Sea lice (Seabather’s eruption)—Sea lice are the larvae of jellyfish. They usually do not cause serious harm, but they certainly can be a nuisance after a fun day at the beach. Sea lice leave a red itchy rash, typically concentrated where the skin has been covered (such as under bathing suits). If you think your child may have been exposed, remove the bathing suit first and then shower in fresh water right away to remove the venom. A topical steroid cream and an oral antihistamine may be effective under a pediatrician’s supervision.

Takeaways

  • Visiting the beach can be fun for your family, but there are some dangers.
  • Be on the lookout for jellyfish, as they can still sting if they are washed up.
  • While stingrays don’t usually attack humans, they frequently cause accidental injuries.
  • Sea lice don’t cause harm but can be a nuisance after a fun day at the beach.

References

  1. Florida Health. Sea lice.
  2. Red Cross. Beach Safety.

Comments

  1. great tips@ never knew about sea lice. good to know

    Reply
  2. This is very good advice. I have had family members stung by jelly fish because they think they cant hurt them because they are dead.

    Reply
  3. Luckily, we haven’t come in contact with many jelly fish at the beach but my husband did have an encounter with sand fleas, we think. Both of his feet broke out into red bumps and itched really badly. Nothing happened to me or my girls so we think he may be allergic to them.

    Reply
  4. I’ve heard that meat tenderizer powder also works well on taking away the pain from a jellyfish sting. That’s what my dad would always do when we were growing up and it worked. 🙂

    Reply
    1. The only thing I have heard of to help with stings is urine and I think that may be a myth??! I think I will start to carry meat tenderizer with me on our beach trips from now on!

      Reply

Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.

Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.