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Body Talk: FIRST AID FIX SEASIDE STINGS; Now summer's here, millions of us are heading to the UK coast or beach holidays abroad. But the sea can hide a host of dangers, leading to nasty stings for unwary bathers.

Byline: PAUL JOHNSON

JELLYFISH AND SEA ANEMONES

Both jellyfish - with their long tentacles laden with stings - and sea anemones - which are often found in rock pools when the tide's out - can be found in the UK and abroad and cause very nasty stings.

IF YOU THINK YOU'VE BEEN STUNG... Get out of the water as soon as possible and seek help - many tourist beaches have a first-aid post.

Pouring lots of vinegar over the injury neutralises any stinging cells left on the skin and any venom already freed.

Sea water is a good second option if there's no vinegar to hand, but don't use alcohol or sand.

Next, dust dry talcum powder over the wound to make the remaining stinging cells clump together before brushing them off with a clean, non-fluffy pad or a piece of clothing.

WEEVER FISH

Also found in UK coastal waters are Weever fish, which lie buried in the sand close to the shore so they're easily trodden on by paddlers. The fish's venomous spines can puncture the skin, leading to excruciating pain and nerve paralysis.

IF YOU THINK YOU'VE TRODDEN ON ONE... Neutralise the venom by putting the injured foot in water that's as hot as can be tolerated for at least 30 minutes.

After that, the sting victim should visit casualty or a specialist clinic where any spines in the flesh can be removed. Help from a paramedic or first-aider is always advisable, even for minor stings. If the injuries look severe - call for an ambulance.

FIRST AID KIT

TAKE a large bottle of cheap vinegar to the beach, along with talcum powder, bandages, antiseptic cream and plasters. A reusable mini vacuum pump called Aspivenin - pounds 14.49 from Boots - can help draw out Weever fish and jellyfish stings.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 5, 2004
Words:295
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