Categories: Health & Fitness

How to relieve a physalia bite?

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The physalia is a marine animal close to the jellyfish, present on the beaches of the Atlantic coast in France (Landes, Vendée, Anglet, Brittany…). Do not touch it because it is extremely stinging.

Physalia (Physalia physalis), also called “portuguese galley” Or “spanish galley” is a sea animal that looks like strongly to a jellyfish. Its filaments are extremely stinging and can cause burns if touched. Physalia is frequently observed on the beaches of the French Atlantic coast, in particular in Vendée, Loire-Atlantique, Aquitaine and more rarely, in Brittany. In mid-July 2023, the presence of physalia in bathing areas forced the authorities to close six beaches inAnglet and Biarritz. Thus, if you notice their presence, do not touch them, even if they are dead or stranded because they remain dangerous.

The physalia is close to the jellyfish, even if it is not the same marine animal. It has a characteristic shape of air bag, measuring 15 to 20 cm. She is colored dewy or bluish and equipped with long filaments (they can reach 15 to 40 meters), which are extremely stinging and can rupture easily and drift with the waves. It floats out of the water and can easily be mistaken for a plastic bag or a beach ball.

Photo of a cape goose on the beach © Celso Alexandre KrÜger/Wirestock/Adobe Stock

Where is it present in France?

In early 2023, thePays de la Loire Regional Health Agency reported the presence of physalia on the Pays de la Loire coast (municipalities of Jard sur Mer, Talmont St-Hilaire, Piriac sur mer and La Turballe in particular), but it is also present on the coasts of Aquitaine and Charente-Maritime. In July 2023, several beaches in the Basque Country (Anglet, Biarritz, etc.) had to close and ban swimming due to the presence of physalies. On the other hand, its presence on the Breton coast remains rare.

What are the dangers of a physalia sting?

Contact with the filaments of a physalia can cause very painful skin lesions with a burning sensation or electric shock, orhives that can last for several hours. Small blisters may form on the skin, which turns purplish, and last for a few weeks. More general symptoms are possible: feeling unwell, loss of consciousnessincreased heart rate and blood pressure, dizziness, abdominal painvomiting… In 10% of cases, these symptoms are serious and require hospitalization.

What to do to relieve a physalia bite?

In the event of contact with a physalia, the Pays de la Loire Regional Health Agency recommends:

  • Rinse with sea water without rubbing
  • Do not apply heat (heat exaggerates the burn) even though the venom is sometimes heat labile
  • Remove, without crushing them, the visible filaments with pliers or a double glove,
  • Apply shaving foam or, failing that, dry sand (especially not wet), scrape with a credit card or stiff cardboard
  • Consult a doctor or call the SAMU Center 15 when the general symptoms listed above appear

If you notice the presence of these animals on the beach, it is recommended not to swim or practice water sports involving frequent contact with water (such as windsurfing, kite surfing, etc.). It is also recommended not to touch the animal, even if it is stranded or dead because the stinging cells of jellyfish can remain active for several days.

#relieve #physalia #bite

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