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Just about every family in Hawaii has its “favorite” beach. Ours is Sherwood Forest beach near Waimanalo Beach Park. It has all the makings for a fun afternoon in the sun: small crowds, nearby bathrooms (always important), and a large swath of white sand. In fact, it’s such an amazing spot, it’s even one of the stops on Hawaii Aloha Travel’s Cirlce Island Tour! But, this beautiful beach also has something else, lots of Portuguese Man O’War.
Often, you’ll see them strewn across the sand, washed up from the ocean. Or, if you’re unlucky like our family, you’ll sometimes find them clinging to your arm, as you scream in pain from the sting.
Last summer, my oldest daughter got stung (again). But this time, I remembered to bring a sting-relief spray called “Sting No More” with me (a “gift” from the product’s inventor). VOILA! Two sprays and the sting was gone!
For the hundreds of swimmers stung by box jellyfish off Waikiki this past week, “Sting No More” likely could have brought relief. But, only now is the product getting the attention it deserves.
The product’s inventor is Dr. Angel Yanagihara, a box jellyfish expert who has been studying the animals for 18 years. She’s the brainchild behind the product and developed the spray and cream.
“We’ve developed technologies that allow for rapid inactivation of the stinging cells that are left on the surface of the skin, as well as a cream that will inactivate the venom in the skin upper layers of the skin,” Yanagihara told Hawaii News Now.
Originally, Dr. Yanagihara developed the product for the military. “I was contacted because these combat divers were experiencing severe career ending stings,” said Yanagihara. In fact, U.S. Special Forces Combat divers curently use the product.
Yanagihara told Hawaii News Now, she’s now taking her research to the next level. She’s designed a set of experiments using live, stinging tentacles and live human red blood cells to test which first-aid measures helps reduce the venom delivered with a jellyfish sting.
Yanigahara’s mission going forward is to test out treatments for stings from other common Hawaiian species, including the Portuguese Man O’ War.
If you don’t have a bottle of “Sting No More” on-hand, what else can you do?
Yanagihara told Hawaii News Now she recommends rinsing a box jellyfish sting with vinegar and immersing it in hot water. “Any site pressure will make it far worse,” she said. “So rubbing or scraping it absolutely don’t do.”
Stay away from using ice and cold water on a box jellyfish sting.”It’s a transient illusion of the reduction of the pain, but the venom is still in there and as soon as it warms up again it’s going to be game on,” Yanagihara said.
You won’t find the spray or creams at your local drug store… yet. But, you CAN find them on sale at Hanauma Bay or online.