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First Aid for Lionfish Stings

  • If you are “stung” by a lionfish: DONT PANIC! The pain does not come on immediately and the venom takes some minutes to act. The throbbing, intense pain lasts for a few hours and will decrease for the next hours and will likely not last for over a day.
  • If underwater, call the dive and surface safely.
  • Check for any obvious pieces of spine left in the wound. Remove gently if possible.
  • Clean and disinfect the wound. If first kit available use antiseptic towelettes and apply antibiotic ointment.
  • If bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding.
  • Pre-treatment includes applying heat to the wound to denature the venom, which is protein-based. Apply heat, to the individual levels of tolerance directly to the wound without scalding or burning the skin. Soak for at least 30 minutes and as long as desired. Keep a thermos with hot water or use an instant heat pack.
  • Take usual painkillers.
  • Most people do not seek medical attention, but we recommend that you do. Severe pain can cause shock, which may involve shortness of breath, fainting and cardiac arrest. People that are diabetics and have weakened immune systems may react badly to the venom. People that are allergic to the venom may go into anaphylactic shock. The injury may become infected.