Jellyfish Sting Pictures

Pictures of Stings from Jellyfish and Other Sea Creatures


Jellyfish Sting on Knee After 2 Days

jellyfish sting
Healing Bumps from the Tentacle's Path. (c) Erin

Jellyfish stings have a distinct look, but not everything that stings in the ocean is a jellyfish. There are also Man-O-Wars, blue bottles, puffer fish, sea anemones and lots more.

These pictures are of jellyfish stings and other damage done by the creatures of the deep. Many of these pictures have been submitted by readers.

Two days after this jellyfish sting, the skin is healing but the tentacle's path is clearly still visible.

Treating a jellyfish sting is often a multiple day project. Healing isn't always a smooth transition from inflamed to all better. Sometimes the process is a little bumpier than that.


Jellyfish Left Its Mark

jellyfish sting
Inflammation Shows the Shadow of the Stinging Jellyfish. (c) Pete & Brook

Often, jellyfish stings are obvious because the jellyfish leaves its mark behind. The mark might be its whole body or just a tentacle. The shadow of a jellyfish on your belly is almost creepy. It's like he's mocking you.

If any part of the jellyfish is still on your skin once you get out of the water, the first thing to do is remove it. Don't use your bare hands; the tentacles can sting even after being ripped off the jellyfish's body.


Jellyfish Sting on Knee

jellyfish sting
Easy to See Where this Tentacle Went. (c) Erin

The stinging cells on a jellyfish tentacle are called nematocysts. It's easy to see in this picture where the nematocysts were along the tentacle. The raised bumps clearly mark the reactions to the jellyfish toxin.

The first step in treating jellyfish stings is to remove any parts of the tentacle still touching the skin—just not with bare hands. Jellyfish stinging is automatic, which means the tentacle no longer has to be attached to the body of the jellyfish to keep stinging. You have to spray, rinse or brush off the tentacles first. Use whatever is available.


Jellyfish Sting on Arm

jellyfish sting on arm
A Jellyfish Attacks in an Exotic Location. (c) Kate Nevens

Jellyfish don't go on the attack. They just kind of lie in wait. Their tentacles have stinging cells known as nematocysts. They leave a toxin behind that in the most serious cases can lead to death.

There is a debate going on about the best way to treat jellyfish stings. In one camp is distilled white vinegar. In the other camp is hot water. No one knows which is better, but it might have something to do with the specific toxin of each species.


Is It a Jellyfish Sting?

Jellyfish Sting on Neck
More than Jellyfish Can Sting in the Ocean. (c) Mat Honan

It's easier to identify a jellyfish sting when you can see the tentacle trails in the reaction. Some jellyfish-like creatures (man-o-war or blue bottles, for example) have thicker tendrils that cause a much wider reaction.

There is a lot of debate about the best way to treat jellyfish stings. Non-jelly critters like the man-o-war make that debate even more complicated. For now, the two most accepted treatments are rinsing with hot water or with white distilled vinegar.


Man-O-War Sting

Mon-o-War sting
Oh! Man-O-War this Looks Painful!. (c) Simon Tonge

Technically, the man-o-war is not a jellyfish. It's a string of jellyfish-like creatures living together as one organism. It has a painful sting that can be dangerous. See how the sting is much wider than the tentacle marks from typical jellyfish? The man-o-war has longer, thicker tentacles that do its stinging.

South of the equator, these are often called bluebottles. In the United States, they are usually called man-o-war or Portuguese man-o-war.

Generally, treat stings from these creatures the same as you would those from other jellyfish species: Remove all tentacles from the sting site and rinse thoroughly, preferably with hot water. Watch for confusion, chest pain, and weakness. Always seek emergency medical treatment for these. Man-of-war stings can be very serious.


Jellyfish Sting on Feet

Jellyfish stings on feet
Itching and Stinging on Both Feet. (c) bobafred

The victim of this sting complains more of itching than stinging. It's always possible that other stinging critters of the sea made these inflammations, rather than only blaming jellyfish.

Of course, it's always possible that a jellyfish did it, too.

Regardless of the creature that causes the stinging, the treatment doesn't change. This is one type of first aid that could use a bit more research to help identify the best way to handle specific species of jellyfish and other stinging marine animals.

The other thing that doesn't change is the real danger of any type of toxic sting, marine animal or not. Be aware of symptoms of anaphylaxis, especially in a reaction that is more itching than burning. Any hives appearing on the body, particularly in areas not directly affected by the sting, or shortness of breath requires a trip to the doctor or a call to 911.


Sea Anemone Sting

sea anemone sting
More than Jellyfish Can Sting in the Ocean. (c) Missi Bellande

Sea anemones are another stinging marine critter. This victim thought she'd been stung by a jellyfish, but the ER told her it was a sea anemone. Sea anemones attach themselves to rocks and reefs. Some folks think they look like flowers, only these flowers hurt.

Jellyfish or sea anemone, either way, the treatment should be the same. Look for symptoms of anaphylaxis, including any hives or shortness of breath. If you suspect anaphylaxis, go to the doctor or call 911.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources