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Researchers run hot and cold on jellyfish stings

22 July 2005

Researchers run hot and cold on jellyfish sting treatment

Hot water immersion has proved to be an effective way to treat painful Physalia (or Pacific man-o-war jellyfish) stings.

Delegates to the Winter Symposium of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine being held at the Millennium Hotel in Queenstown NZ will hear the results of a randomised trial of 96 people stung by the jellyfish (also known as the bluebottle).

The trial was carried out by a team of researchers from Newcastle to compare pain relief after traditional ice pack treatment and hot water immersion.

The two groups of patients had similar demographics and clinical characteristics, except that the patients treated with hot water had more severe initial pain.

After 10 minutes, 53% of the hot water group had improved pain, compared with 32% of those treated with ice packs.

After 20 minutes, 87% of those treated with hot water had improved pain, versus 33% treated with ice.

The trial also found that radiating pain occurred less with hot water (10% compared with 30%).

The researchers concluded that hot water immersion was effective if it could be administered at 45 degrees for at least 20 minutes.

In Australia, about 10,000 people are stung every year by Pacific man-o-war jellyfish. They can suffer severe pain, skin lesions, nausea, and vomiting.

Dr Conrad Loten, from the John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, will discuss the research at 1.45 on Friday July 22.


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