Having been hit by stingrays 4 separate times, I have become somewhat of a first-person authority on stingrays and stingray injuries.
What do stingray injuries feel like?
I’ve you’ve never been stung by a stingray, let me help you understand what it feels like:
- Imagine someone coming down on your foot with an axe – over and over again.
- Imagine someone taking a chainsaw to your foot – for an hour.
- It is about the maximum pain a man can stand without crying.
- The pain made me feel grateful that The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, died quickly. Knowing he was pierced through the heart by a ray barb, I cannot imagine the pure suffering he would have endured had he left the barb in, with his heart pumping that venom throughout his bloodstream. I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy.
- I’d like to find a woman whose both been in a painful labor and been stung by a stingray – as I would wager the stingray injury would be infinitely worse.
The stingray is like Alien: It has a developed the most perfect defense mechanism it could over millions of years of evolution.
I think I’ve painted a vivid picture of what it feels like to be stung.
How to treat a stingray injury:
The only thing that works is very hot water.
The only thing thing that will help reduce the pain of a stingray injury is submerging your foot in the hottest water you can stand – without burning yourself.
If someone is at home, call them and tell them to start boiling water in a large pot.
Add the boiling water with cold water into a separate, clean bucket, until it’s something you can put your foot in safely.
You’ll definitely want to clean the bucket first – and maybe add a good amount of liquid dish soap to the water for good measure. You really don’t want the wound getting infected.
Why does hot water work?
It is thought that heat breaks down the protein molecule found in the venom.
The relief you experience after putting your foot in hot water is nearly instant, and it takes away about 50%-75% of the pain.
Consider scrubbing the wound.
When I get stung, and I’m sure there is no barb stuck in my foot, I preemptively scrub the injury with a betadine scrub pad.
The level-10 pain of this is nearly-unbearable, but I do it in an attempt to get as much of the gnarly bacteria and poison out of the immediate area.
I do this before, during and after my hot water soak.
Keep the wound dressed and clean.
After the soak, I keep the wound covered. Use Neosporin an a clean bandage.
It’s important not to let any foreign bacteria enter the wound.
See a doctor.
At this point, I’d highly advise you see a doctor.
If a portion of the barb is in your skin, it will not come out by itself, and this can become a huge problem if left untreated.
My doctor, realizing that I’m in the water a lot, preemptively wrote me a prescription for antibiotics to take in the event I am hit by a stingray. I start taking them during my soak time now, until I can my doctor.
Ask your doctor about the following potential antibiotics, which have been very effective for me:
- Cephalaxin 500 MG
- Doxycycline Hyclate 100 MG
Really: See a doctor.
Not seeing a doctor is a big mistake. Stingray venom is some nasty stuff, compounded by any saltwater resistant bacteria that may just happens to live be on the stingray barb.
Not seeing a doctor, you could even lose your foot. It’s not worth the risk.
The third time I was stung, an acute cellulitis infection required me to be hospitalized for a night.
My foot swelled to 3 times it’s normal size, and required a few rounds of some very gnarly intravenous antibiotics: