Iatrogenic Thermal Burns Secondary to Marine Sting Treatment

Christopher J. Lewis, Fiona Wood, Anna Goodwin-Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Hot water immersion (HWI) therapy is an effective and validated treatment for a variety of marine stings. Unsupervised, however, it poses a significant risk of thermal injury. Herein, we describe our experience of iatrogenic thermal injury secondary to marine sting treatment. A 5-year retrospective review of all iatrogenic thermal burns secondary to marine stings referred to the State Adult Burn Service was conducted. Nine patients were identified, all sustaining stings to the feet from estuarine cobblerfish, stonefish, and stingrays. All patients continued unsupervised HWI at home and sustained thermal injury to their feet. The majority were treated conservatively with dressings and elevation. One patient required surgical debridement. While heat application is an effective treatment for marine stings, further patient education is required following discharge from point of care. We recommend that first-aid treatment guidelines be updated to reflect that patients are not recommended to continue scalding water immersion at home. However, if patients wish to continue HWI, water temperature should be checked manually with a thermometer or with a nonstung limb and limited to 30 minutes immersion, with 30-minute skin recovery time between.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)878-881
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of burn care & research : official publication of the American Burn Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


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