Are Sea Anemones Poisonous to Humans|Symptom & Treatment of Sea Anemone Sting

Sea anemones are the marine creatures or plants that grow on ocean`s bed. People often wonder if sea anemones are poisonous to humans. Find information related to poisonous sea anemone sting, its signs and symptom, treatment options and prevention measures.

Sea anemones include jelly fish, sea pens and other corals. These creatures are generally carnivores and only devour small fishes, and other sea animals which come under the range of deadly poisonous tentacles. Most of the sea anemone bites are harmless, but some sea anemones may be poisonous to humans. Some species produce sting, which result in several of the unwanted symptoms that may be mild and severe depending on the amount of venom injected. Know the signs and symptoms of sea anemone sting, treatment options and preventive measures.

Are Sea Anemones Poisonous to Humans?

Are Sea Anemones Poisonous to Humans?

The tentacles of the injecting sea anemones are launched with a slight pressure which is in either self defense or while capturing food. But are sea anemone poisonous to humans? The answer is, though these sea anemones are harmless in most cases, but some toxin injects can be fatal. These injuries can cause some deep painful wounds and even death in certain cases. Humans usually come in contact with such poisonous sea anemones during deep sea diving or when they are washed ashore in high tides. The severity and intensity of the sting of poisonous sea anemones depends upon the species. The amount of the toxin injected, and the reaction of the human body also plays a crucial role. In cases of severe sea anemone stings, medical attention is essential. The treatment involves removal of the sting or multiple stings, washing away the infected area with an antibacterial liquid, the use of medications (the topical antibiotics and painkillers).

Here are the risk factors associated with the sea anemone sting:

  • Deep sea divers
  • Coral reef diver
  • Keeping them in aquariums
  • Picking the stinging poisonous sea anemones with bare hands
  • Walking barefoot on beaches near sea
  • Handling of live or dead sea anemone species.

People who are often exposed to the venom is vulnerable to the sea anemone sting. Both men and women are equally affected. However, those with stronger immune system can resist the effect of poisonous sea anemones and their recovery is also fast than those with low immunity.

Symptom of Sea Anemone Sting

The severity of symptoms of sea anemone sting depend on

  • Type of species of sea anemone
  • Amount of the toxin injected
  • Human body`s reaction to the sting

Some of the common symptoms of sea anemone sting include cuts and wounds on the affected areas (mostly on legs and arms). Rashes are commonly seen on the skin and hives that turn into blisters and then ooze. Severe pain, itchiness and swelling in the area are the other symptoms commonly noted.

Some of the severe symptoms of sea anemone sting, which often need immediate treatment include difficulty in breathing, severe chest pain, rapid heartbeat and sweating. This may be accompanied with other symptoms like severe runny nose, muscle aches, headache and fever.

Treatment of Sea Anemone Sting

The treatment options of sea anemone sting include removing the sting and treating the wound.

The first treatment of sea anemone sting is to remove the sting/ spine by carefully plugging out with pair of tweezers. Note that the spines shouldn’t break while pulling it out. Further, the affected site is cleaned with salt water and sea water. Sand here can be used to rub wound and detach the stingers. Once the spine or multiple spines are eradicated, the affected area is washed thoroughly with antibacterial liquid. The wound is left uncovered for healing, which permits the embedded spines in resurfacing. Treatment of sea anemone sting includes pain reliving medications. Vinegar can be taken to reduce the pain. If not up to date, tetanus vaccination is generally required, to get protection. Application of antibiotics (hydrocortisone cream) may be advised.

In treatment of severe symptoms of sea anemone stings, prompt medical care is required

  • Breathing assistance
  • Stabilization of blood pressure
  • Pain controlling medications especially steroids

Any signs of infection or worsening of symptoms must be monitored and appropriate medical assistance must be provided.

Prevention Measures

These points can be taken into consideration for prevention of sea anemone sting.

  • Pay attention to the warnings, precautions of lifeguards at the beach
  • Avoid touching marine animals and plants unnecessarily
  • Wear protective clothing if you are planning to swim in infested areas
  • Try wearing protective footwear if you are taking a walk along the beach
  • Be aware and conscious of the waters to are in
  • While removing stingers from the body, try wearing protective covers such as hand gloves.
  • Also avoid rubbing the affected area with bare hand
  • Ensure safety precautions while cleaning the marine aquariums, use gloves. The reason being a simple and soft touch to sea anemone can trigger the harpoon and sting.

Presently there is no anti-venom available for treatment of sea anemone stings, hence prevention and timely treatment is the best method.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 12, 2017

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