I live on the South Carolina coast, so I tend to get stung quite a lot. Usually this seems to be due to detached jellyfish tentacles that are floating free in the surf. We have seen jellyfish and man-o-war, but typically never see what causes the stings. In the summer of 2009 my son (age 10) suffered a relatively serious sting on his arm.
What I Did
He felt the sting immediately, so the first thing we did was to get him out of the water. We used a piece of shell on the beach to scrape the remaining bit of tentacle off of his arm and then had him rinse off his arm in the saltwater of the surf. We took him back to the car and sprayed Solarcaine on his arm. This is supposed to be effective whether the sting is from a jellyfish or man o war. It prevents additional stinging cells from firing and kills the pain. When we got home he took some children's Benadryl to reduce inflammation.
The pain lasted several days. We used children's Motrin for that. The marks from the sting took several weeks to fade... he's lucky he doesn't have a scar. If anyone has recommendations about after-care I'd love to hear them since I'm sure we'll get stung again one day.
- It would have been helpful to have had some antihistamine cream or gel in the car. Also, I was just lucky to have benzocaine sunburn spray on hand. If you live at the beach, it would be a good idea to carry those items around or at least to have some vinegar, which is good for jellyfish stings.
- The sting was a lot worse the next morning after than just a few hours after it happened. I wasn't prepared for having my son deal with the injury at school.