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Think of a Stung Foot as a Poached Egg and Find a Pan of Hot Water

July 16, 1988|LINDA ROACH MONROE

The ouches of summertime can be banished almost as quickly as they are acquired, veterans of the shoreline say.

"It's like a poached egg," said diver Jim Stewart of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in explaining the treatment of a round-stingray injury.

Just as a poaching egg visibly changes composition, the protein in the stingray venom is broken down by heat. Soak an injured foot in hot water for about half an hour and "the pain just miraculously goes away," he said.

However, if a person has difficulty breathing, an allergic reaction could be occurring, and the victim should go to a hospital. Later, victims should watch for signs of infection.

The main thing to remember after being stung by a jellyfish, Stewart said, is to avoid rubbing the area. For every invisible stinging sac that is hurting, there may be hundreds of others that haven't released their irritating contents, and rubbing may burst them.

Someone who touches a jellyfish with the hands but feels no pain should not assume the stinging sacs are not present. Skin on the hands is more resistant than elsewhere, and the hands should be washed just in case.

Cleansing the skin with alcohol or a 10% solution of household ammonia will neutralize the stinging cells, Stewart said.

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