Yes, the ocean is nature’s big wild frontier. Best not to forget it! It is full of creatures fighting for their own survival, and in this primal struggle, humans do somehow manage to get in the way!
Jellyfish are weird and wonderful creatures but their stings are not wonderful to experience! Nor are the fine string of bluebottles threads wrapping around your limbs or torso. It’s the kind of hug you’d very much like to avoid.
The good news is, the Gold Coast is lucky to only experience the fairly mild regular jellyfish and bluebottles. Unlike the northern coastlines of Queensland, where far more toxic and deadly marine creatures exist, you will be relieved to know that our ‘regulars’ may cause discomfort but are generally not deadly. They are brought to our beaches by certain wind and tide conditions and changes in currents over the summer months. It’s an unfortunate coincidence that this is the time we really love to frolic in the waves.
Don’t wreck your holiday by avoiding swimming altogether. These marine locals come and go and for the most part, conditions for swimming are too good to resist. You need to arm yourself with some common sense and a few tips to enjoy our beaches to their fullest.
We’ve spoken to our resident pharmacist about how to best avoid and then deal with inevitable sting or bite. Here are his tips.
Avoid the pain!
- Check the surf life-saving notice board before entering the ocean. The life-saving team will let you know whether the sea is full of stingers. If the concentration of jellyfish or bluebottles is large, then don’t go in. Head for a pool instead.
- Wear a full sleeve rashy when swimming. This little number will not only save your skin from sunburn, but it can potentially stop stings around the upper half of your body - and at least reduce severity if it happens.
- Have a shower in the fresh water shower after swimming to wash away any microscopic ‘sea lice’ which can irritate you underneath bathing suits.
What to do if you have been bitten or stung.
- If you have been stung at the beach, remove the tentacles, wash off the affected area in seawater and head to the lifeguard tower. They will assess the sting, and apply the recommended treatment for that particular sting.
- Apply a topical antihistamine cream - such as stingose. This will help control any itching.
- Depending on the sting, you can apply ice to relieve the pain.
- Try keep the sting out of the sun, as adding sunburn to already stressed skin will only add to the discomfort.
- If a child has been stung, remain near the lifeguard tower until you are certain no allergic reaction is likely.
For our less painfully annoying locals - mosquitos and midges, here are our tips!
- Midges are difficult to see, and for many people, you won’t even feel them biting. If you are not used to the bites, the reaction of your skin can be quite uncomfortable. Wear insect repellant particularly from 3pm onwards - especially if you are near any canals or sandy locations.
- Wear a hat. This comes from years of experience folks! You cannot protect your scalp from midges unless you are bald! And there is seriously nothing worse than having your head itchy with a thousand bites!
- Light some mosquito coils around the outside of your home. Although not 100% effective, they do deter mosquitos and midges too.
- If you have been stung by mosquitos or midges, the best cream we recommend StopItch. Rub a small amount on the bite and the itch will subside in a few minutes. For midgy bites, a hot shower works wonders as well.
- Try not to scratch the bite to the point of bleeding or you could risk a skin infection. If you break the skin by scratching, make sure you keep it clean and apply an antibacterial lotion such as Savlon to avoid infection.
There you have it! Enjoy the water, the beaches, the landscapes… but look after yourself and you will stay comfortable enough to have a beautiful dinner in the evening and a good night’s rest!