Bluebottle jellyfish reported at holiday spots

BLUEBOTTLE Jellyfish have been reported washed up along Gippsland coastal areas including Loch Sport and Lakes Entrance in recent days, prompting warnings for people to know how to treat people if stung.

Bluebottle stings rarely cause serous medical problems, but they can cause intense skin pain which can last from minutes to many hours.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners says stings can also cause nausea, vomiting, general feeling of malaise and a subsequent dull ache in joints.

Rarely, people may experience breathing difficulties, and if they do, an ambulance should be called immediately.

Medical help should also be sought if symptoms persist or if stings cover a particularly large area, or are across the throat and face.

Heat treatment is recommended for Bluebottle stings.

Applying hot water for 20 minutes or until pain resolves (as hot as comfortable or about 45 degrees Celsius), can reduce pain.

If heat treatment is not possible, ice or cold water can be used, but is thought to be less effective.

Before applying heat, remove any tentacles that remain stuck to the skin.

The RACGP says this can be done with tweezers or by fingers (finger pads are thick and no sting is received, however stings can be transferred from the fingers to other areas of skin).

Wash the site of the sting with seawater, as fresh water can cause the discharge of any nematocysts (stinging cells) that remain on the skin.

The RACGP recommends against applying alcohol, vinegar or rubbing the area, as this may cause discharging of the Bluebottle nematocysts and worsen pain.

Bluebottles are not true jellyfish, but a colony of individual organisms and stings are most common in nontropical areas.

They are commonly encountered in the summer months on the east coast of Australia.