disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. This post is intended to share my own experience with a stingray sting, and not to recommend a particular treatment. Please contact a doctor or medical professional before following a course of treatment.
Those of you who are (un) lucky enough to follow me on Instagram got the pleasure of seeing a couple of select photos of my foot following an untimely stingray sting while visiting Sullivan’s Island, SC. I had no idea it was possible to step on a stingray in knee-deep surf on a crowded beach! A sting by a stingray is not something to mess with, so here are some signs to be aware of if you have a bleeding wound from an unknown sea creature:
– it’s a puncture wound, and could be deep
– you feel throbbing pain coming from the wound that doesn’t go away or intensifies
– there is a barb in the wound
Stingrays have poison in their stingers which can cause some nasty symptoms, and they may leave a barb in the wound. I went to an urgent care facility near the beach that was very knowledgeable of stingray stings; I’d expect this is the case in most coastal areas.
One thing I wish I’d known about stings is that submerging the stung area in hot water (the hottest you can stand) mixed with white vinegar will help relieve the pain. (Ibuprofen may also help.) At the urgent care facility, my foot was submerged for 90 minutes (changing out water periodically to keep it super warm), and it was sweet relief. I left the urgent care facility not feeling much pain at all, compared to agonizing throbbing pain before I arrived.
In my case, the urgent care facility x-rayed my foot to make sure there were no stingray barbs lodged deep in the wound (there weren’t). I also got a tetanus shot.
The most important thing I learned about stingrays was how not to get stung. I learned that stingrays sting when they perceive a threat from above, so taking shuffling steps (as opposed to lifting your foot high with each step) is a preventative measure taken by a lot of surfers. Stingrays will typically swim away if contacted from the side, while they will typically sting if they are stepped on from above. From now on, I will always take shuffling steps in the surf!