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First Aid for Stingray Sting

Last updated March 5, 2018

A stingray is marine creature having a flattened body and a long whip-like tail with stingers. Some species are venomous to human beings. Stingrays are generally not aggressive to humans, but if stepped upon accidently will sting in self-defense.


What is Stingray Sting?

A stingray is marine creature having a flattened body and a long whip-like tail with stingers. Some species are venomous to human beings. Stingrays are generally not aggressive to humans, but if stepped upon accidently will sting in self-defense.

What are the Causes of Stingray Sting?

Most common causes of Stingray Stings include (but are not limited to):

  • Exposure to stingrays in the deep ocean; generally sea divers are at risk
  • Walking on the beach or in shallow sea water
  • Picking up or holding a stingray with bare hands
  • Handling stingrays, either alive or dead

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Stingray Sting?

Signs and symptoms of Stingray Stings vary according to the type of species the individual is exposed to, the amount of toxin injected, and the location of the sting. The symptoms may be mild or severe and could include:

  • Mild cases:
    • Local injury, cuts, gashes, and laceration; usually on the legs, sometimes on the arms
    • Puncture wounds with severe bleeding
    • Pain (increases in severity in 1-2 hours)
    • Itching
    • Swelling of the area, rashes
    • Cramping of muscles
  • Severe symptoms may be systemic and may additionally include:
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure
    • Fever and chills
    • Cough
    • Weakness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Unconsciousness
    • Paralysis

How is First Aid administered for Stingray Sting?

If a Stingray Sting (or sting or bite of a marine creature) is suspected, it is always important to call your local emergency helpline number (or 911 in the US) without any delay, and provide as much information as possible, even if the individual does not have any symptoms.

Until medical help arrives:

  • Move the individual away from the water or incident spot
  • Make a note of the exact time of the incident and notify the emergency medical personnel accordingly
  • Try to gently remove the stinger, only if it is easily possible to do so
  • Use hot water to inactivate any remaining toxin
  • Use pressure to arrest bleeding (if possible)
  • Try to identify or locate the marine animal (only if safely possible) and keep the medical personnel informed
  • DO NOT give anything orally to the individual
  • Unless directed by the physician, DO NOT give any medication

Who should administer First Aid for Stingray Sting?

The individual himself/herself or someone nearby may begin to administer First Aid. Call your local emergency helpline number or 911 immediately as mentioned before.

What is the Prognosis of Stingray Sting?

The prognosis of Stingray Sting is dependent on the potency of the toxin, the severity of reaction, and timely manner in which treatment is administered.

How can Stingray Sting be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Stingray Sting include:

  • Avoid making an attempt to touch or handle marine animals unnecessarily, even if they are pets
  • Do not ignore warnings of lifeguards or health officials at the beach
  • Wear protective clothing if you plan to swim or dive in infested areas
  • Generally be aware or watchful of the waters you are in (to the extent possible)
  • Shuffle feet while walking or wading in shallow waters to disturb the resting stingrays
  • Do not handle dead stingrays, since they can also sting

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

Do’s:

  • Call your local emergency helpline number (or 911) for help
  • Remove the victim immediately from the water
  • Wear gloves while removing stingers
  • When in doubt, wash the affected area with seawater and not freshwater
  • If possible, use hot water to repeatedly wash the wound

Don’ts:

  • Do not hesitate to call your emergency help services
  • Do not remove stingers without wearing suitable protective hand gloves
  • Do not medicate the individual, unless advised by a healthcare professional
  • Do not move the affected region of the body too much
  • Do not run or exercise which might increase the circulation of toxin in the body
  • Do not elevate the affected area above the heart level, since this can also increase circulation of the toxin

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Dec. 27, 2015
Last updated: March 5, 2018