Lionfish Sting Treatment

Lionfish (Pterois volitans)

Lionfish (Pterois volitans) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The beautiful and graceful lionfish has fins with venomous tips that are a danger to anyone in the water where a lionfish happens to be.

The venomous dorsal spines of the lionfish are used for defense and when threatened the lionfish may turn to an upside down position to bear the spines.

Lionfish are considered to be an invasive species that devour juvenile indigenous reef fish species and crustaceans and have the potential to throw off the local ecosystem.

The lionfish is one of the most venomous fish in the ocean, ranking second only to stingrays in the number of human stings worldwide with an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 cases annually.

If a person is stung, that person will experience intense throbbing, sharp pain, tingling sensations, sweatiness and blistering. In worst case scenarios the symptoms may include headache, nausea, abdominal pain, delirium, seizures, paralysis of limbs, changes in blood pressure, breathing difficulties, heart failure and tremors, pulmonary edema, and loss of consciousness.

A common treatment is soaking the afflicted area in hot water, as there is currently no anti-venom. However, immediate emergency medical treatment is still advised as some people are more susceptible to the venom than others.

To treat a Lionfish sting follow these simple steps:

  1. Carefully remove any visible spines from the wound.
  2. Use direct pressure with gauze pads to control bleeding.
  3. Soak the affected area in warm water (110°F to 113°F) for 30 minutes to denature the toxins.
  4. Administration of analgesia (never use aspirin in conjunction with hot water treatments).
  5. Watch for signs of systemic symptoms and be ready to perform CPR if necessary or treatment for anaphylactic shock.
  6. Transport to the hospital for evaluation and wound debridement and care, and anti-venom administration where available.
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