Stingray Sting

Symptoms A jagged wound that is immediately and intensely painful; the worst pain occurs after about an hour and then gradually subsides over a period of up to two days.

Treatment Stingray venom breaks down when warm but is stable and persistent when cool. First aid consists of applying hot water from the faucet, as hot as one can tolerate without causing a burn to the affected area. This will promptly decrease the pain, but discomfort will recur as soon as the area (generally the leg or foot) is allowed to cool. Frequent heat application is necessary for a day or two to control the pain.

Infection may occur if the venom and barb fragments (or the entire spine) remain in the wound. Usually these are removed by irrigating with hot water, though most wounds do not become infected. A tetanus booster is recommended if none has been given during the previous five years.


Stingrays partially submerge themselves in sandy shallow water in sheltered bays, lagoons, and river mouths. The animal’s whip like tail has several (one to four) barbs (spines) that are covered with a mucous venom. The tail reflexively whips upward when the ray is touched.

To prevent being stung, bathers should shuffle (not step) when walking in shallow water. This disturbs the stingray, and it will flee before one has a chance to step on it.