South Carolina

Watch out for men-of-war at this SC beach. If you do get stung, try this remedy

Portuguese men-o’-war are hitting SC beaches. Here’s what you need to know.

Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, is warning tourists to be on the lookout for Portuguese men-o'-war. Several have been seen on the community's popular beaches.
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Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, is warning tourists to be on the lookout for Portuguese men-o'-war. Several have been seen on the community's popular beaches.

Beware. Or take care.

That’s the advice being offered by a South Carolina city, which has issued a warning about Portuguese man-of-war attacks.

On its Facebook page, the city of Folly Beach said people have reported suffering stings.

It’s post includes pictures of a Portuguese man-of-war, in the water and on the beach, both places where visitors to the beach have been stung.

The man-of-war is a venomous sea creature and its sting is known for being extremely painful to people, and worse for fish.

A man-of-war is “covered in venom-filled nematocysts used to paralyze and kill fish and other small creatures,” according to National Geographic, which reported a man-of-war can still deliver a nasty sting even if it is dead.

Because of the danger presented by men-of-war, Folly Beach offered a way to treat the sting and alleviate the pain.

“The recommended treatment is vinegar and warmth ... Be safe out there!”

That’s very close to the first-aid plan suggested by WebMD. It says to rinse the sting with vinegar “for at least 30 seconds,” before using tweezers to remove the tentacles, and finally apply hot water, “but not scalding,” for at least 20 minutes. Further pain and itching can be relieved by hydrocortisone cream.

A researcher with the Pacific Cnidaria Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, also endorsed this specific treatment, Smithsonian.com reported.

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This photo of a Portuguese man-or-war was photographed on Monday, May 28, 2018, on the south end of Hilton Head Island. The tentacles of the man-of-war deliver a dangerous sting that can last for hours - even when the sea creature is dead. Meghan Klunk

That study also eliminated other suggested remedies, some of which have become urban legends.

In fact, one remedy that was offered by a person commenting on Folly Beach’s Facebook post was quickly dispelled when treating a Portuguese man-of-war sting.

Do NOT use urine as a treatment.

That remedy has not been ruled out when it comes to treating jellyfish stings. In spite of the similarities, men-of-war are not jellyfish.

That solution, made infamous on an episode of the hit TV comedy “Friends,” will just make the sting worse, according to Smithsonian.com. It said urine and “scraping” off the tentacles are “practices that actually worsen stings.”

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Photo from Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue

The National University of Ireland Galway reported treating a sting with alcohol, seawater, shaving cream, baking soda and yes, urine, could worsen symptoms, per Gizmodo.

So don’t follow the advice of one person who commented the ideal remedy was Captain Morgan rum, although that comment did not indicate if that was to douse on the sting, or to nullify the pain by drinking. Either way, it’s not the recommended treatment.

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