The best way to treat Man o’ War and Box Jelly stings


A veteran lifeguard says it’s the largest influx he’s ever seen… thousands were found washed up this morning.

100 stings were reported at Kailua Beach… 80 stings at Waimanalo… and 30 at Makapuu.

Lifeguards have posted warning signs.

The trade winds we have all been longing for — are what brought the stinging creatures ashore.

Full moons bring box jellies ashore after eight to ten days — but when it comes to what scientists call “blue bottles,” our wonderful tradewinds are responsible.

We call them Portuguese Man o War but scientists call them blue bottles.

Angel Yanagihara, Ph.D, Associate Research Professor, UH Dept. Of Tropical Medicine, says, “So when we have strong tradewinds then we’ll get the Physalia Utriculus or the Blue Bottles coming ashore, and it’s completely different than the Box Jellyfish that we have here.”

Yanagihara says while box jellies arrive overnight — blue bottles can wash up all day, any day that we have strong trades.

Both species have tentacles with microscopic, explosive stinging cells. some sting you right away — but others remain on the skin. Yanagihara calls them “ticking time bombs” lying in wait to cause more pain.

“So, whereas, you get stung and it hurts or it itches and you feel like, ‘Oh if I could press sand and rub it on there, I could get rid of that,’ in fact you’re making things worse.”

The first step is first aid that’s been proven by science.

“What we found is that vinegar, which has been a go-to standard for indigenous peoples around the world for thousands of years, irreversibly inhibits these tiny undischarged cnidae from ever firing.”

The next step — is soaking the area in hot water.

“About 115 degrees Farenheit, for 45 minutes, will irreversibly inhibit the venom that’s already been injected.”

After her own encounter with box jellies that left her with a painful rash for months, Yanagihara got a research grant and developed Sting-No-More.

“So first, just to get rid of any of the adherent, those ticking time-bombs, you would spray the spray and then after that apply this cream.”

The products are available online and at a few retail locations in Waikiki as well as dive shops around Oahu.”

Otherwise — City and County lifeguards can treat stings with vinegar and hot-packs.

We’ve heard about many treatments over generations — including meat tenderizer, papaya — and other, more unpleasant options. Yanagihara says vinegar and hot water are scientifically proven.

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