Indian Journal of Dermatology
  Publication of IADVL, WB
  Official organ of AADV
Indexed with Science Citation Index (E) , Web of Science and PubMed
Users online: 1504  
Home About  Editorial Board  Current Issue Archives Online Early Coming Soon Guidelines Subscriptions  e-Alerts    Login  
    Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size Print this page Email this page

Table of Contents 
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 60  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 488-490
Jellyfish envenomation presenting with delayed identical cutaneous lesions in a mother and child

Department of Dermatology, KPC Medical College and Hospital, 1F, Raja SC Mullick Road, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Web Publication4-Sep-2015

Correspondence Address:
Aditi Chakrabarti
Department of Dermatology, KPC Medical College and Hospital, 1F, Raja SC Mullick Road, Kolkata, West Bengal - 700 032
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5154.164371

Rights and Permissions


Jellyfish envenomation can present with local cutaneous lesions both immediate and delayed. While the immediate reaction is toxin mediated, an immune mechanism is responsible for the delayed eruptions. This is a report of a mother and child who developed identical papular lesions in a bizarre, linear distribution after coming in contact with jellyfish almost simultaneously while on holiday. Histology showed focal basal cell degeneration along with peri-vascular and peri-appendageal lympho-mononuclear infiltrate. Both patients responded well to topical tacrolimus.

Keywords: Basal cell degeneration, delayed cutaneous lesions, jellyfish envenomation, papules

How to cite this article:
Chakrabarti A, Sengupta S. Jellyfish envenomation presenting with delayed identical cutaneous lesions in a mother and child. Indian J Dermatol 2015;60:488-90

How to cite this URL:
Chakrabarti A, Sengupta S. Jellyfish envenomation presenting with delayed identical cutaneous lesions in a mother and child. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Aug 5];60:488-90. Available from: https://www.e-ijd.org/text.asp?2015/60/5/488/164371

What was known?

  • Jellyfish stings can cause immediate and delayed local skin reactions
  • Histology usually shows a subacute dermatitis.

   Introduction Top

Jellyfish are invertebrates found in the sea. Their stings can cause both immediate and delayed local reactions in the skin. A report of envenomation of a mother and child duo, who developed identical skin lesions a week later, is presented here.

   Case Report Top

A 35-year-old lady and her son aged 9 years presented with itchy, red, bizarre linear lesions on the arms. Two weeks ago, while on holiday in the Bintan island of Indonesia, first the son and then the mother who were swimming closely, came in contact with unidentified jellyfish within minutes of each other. They described severe burning pain and immediate development of burn like lesions at the site of contact. The locals present on the beach, applied vinegar to the lesions and removed the thread-like jellyfish body parts. A local physician prescribed pain killers, antihistamine and topical ointments. Neither developed any systemic symptoms. A week later both patients noted that the skin lesions were palpable with peeling of skin and severe itching. Clinical examination showed mildly erythematous papules with superficial scaling, coalescing to form linear lesions arranged in a crisscross configuration, extensively involving the right forearm of the boy [Figure 1]. The mother had similar lesions but less extensive on the left forearm [Figure 2]. Histopathological examination of a biopsy done on the mother showed focal basal cell degeneration with upper dermal lympho-mononuclear infiltrate. In addition there was peri-vascular and peri-appendageal lympho-mononuclear infiltrate. Eosinophils, neutrophils or any foreign body parts were not seen [Figure 3]. Both patients responded well to topical tacrolimus 0.1% ointment, topical emollients and oral antihistamine. A review at 4 months showed post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Figure 1: Coalescing erythematous scaly papules in a crisscross fashion on the forearm of the boy

Click here to view
Figure 2: Similar linear skin lesions in the mother

Click here to view
Figure 3: Focal basal cell degeneration in addition to peri-vascular and peri-appendageal infiltrate [H and E, 100X]

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

Jellyfish that belong to the phylum Cnidaria, have a world-wide distribution. They have an umbrella-like body with tentacles, the number, length and color of which are species-specific. All tentacles are lined by cnidocytes which contain specialized organelles called nematocysts. These are hollow capsules containing a tightly coiled thread immersed in venom. Mechanical stimuli activate the uncoiling of the thread which penetrates into tissues and the venom is discharged. Nematocyst discharge is a mechanical event and occurs within a fraction of a second. They can discharge when separated from the body of the jellyfish or even when the jellyfish is dead though the rate decreases. All Cnidarins are capable of envenomation but not all are dangerous to humans. [1]

Symptoms resulting from jellyfish envenomation can be immediate or delayed, local or systemic. Local immediate reactions that are toxin mediated may vary from intense burning pain, linear red wheals, edema, erythema to skin necrosis. Pain is perceived instantly, is maximal within 5 min and resolves over a period of time. [2] However, the skin lesions may sometimes be delayed for several hours, persist up to several months or recur without further stings. [3],[4]

Delayed cutaneous eruptions or multiple recurrent eruptions following solitary envenomations by different subphyla of cnidarins are very well documented. Clinically, delayed eruptions have presented as eczematous lesions, [4] indurated lesions, [5] papules, plaques [6] and even widespread papulonodular lesions. [7] Histologically, most reports have described features of subacute dermatitis together with lympho-mononuclear infiltrate in peri-vascular and peri-appendageal locations. Eosinophils and neutrophils were also present. An immunologic reaction involving both B- and T-cell systems has been postulated in delayed reactions following jellyfish envenomation. [8]

It is known that the length of the toxin thread of the nematocyst determines the site of toxin injection in the skin-intraepidermal, intradermal or intravascular and probably in some cases even subcutaneous. It is thought that the initial site of toxin deposition together with the molecular size of the venom contribute to the ultimate clinical outcome. [10] The clinical presentation of the two patients in this report is identical with coalescing papules in a bizarre, linear configuration except that son who was stung first had more extensive involvement. Both mother and son were stung within a few moments of each other so it is possible that they came in contact with the same jellyfish. It is reasonable to surmise that the type of jellyfish together with their distinctive nematocyst and specific toxin dictates the subsequent clinical picture as well as the histology. The histology on the mother showed focal basal cell degeneration in addition to peri-vascular and peri-appendageal infiltrate, which is rarely reported in the literature. [9] Both the patients responded well to the higher strength of topical tacrolimus as in the case reported by Asztalos et al.

This case report is unique in its presentation of a mother and child pair who were stung by jellyfish almost simultaneously and presented with identical cutaneous lesions. The histology showed basal cell degeneration which is rarely reported.

   References Top

Cegolon L, Heymann WC, Lange JH, Mastrangelo G. Jellyfish stings and their management: A review. Mar Drugs 2013;11:523-50.  Back to cited text no. 1
Burnett JW. Medical aspects of jellyfish envenomation: Pathogenesis, case reporting and therapy. Hydrobiologia 2001;451:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Månsson T, Randle HW, Mandojana RM, Calton GJ, Burnett JW. Recurrent cutaneous jellyfish eruptions without envenomation. Acta Derm Venereol 1985;65:72-5.  Back to cited text no. 3
Di Costanzo L, Balato N, Zagaria O, Balato A. Successful management of a delayed and persistent cutaneous reaction to jellyfish with pimecrolimus. J Dermatolog Treat 2009;20:179-80.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ohtaki N, Satoh A, Azuma H, Nakajima T. Delayed flare-up reactions caused by jellyfish. Dermatologica 1986;172:98-103.  Back to cited text no. 5
Reed KM, Bronstein BR, Baden HP. Delayed and persistent cutaneous reactions to coelenterates. J Am Acad Dermatol 1984;10:462-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
Veraldi S, Carrera C. Delayed cutaneous reaction to jellyfish. International J Dermatol 2000;39:28-29.  Back to cited text no. 7
Tibballs J, Yanagihara AA, Turner HC, Winkel K. Immunological and toxinological responses to jellyfish stings. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets 2011;10:438-46.  Back to cited text no. 8
Frenk E, Mancarella A, Vion B. Delayed skin reaction caused by a coelenterate. Dermatologica 1990;181:241-2.  Back to cited text no. 9
Loredana Asztalos M, Rubin AI, Elenitsas R, Groft MacFarlane C, Castelo-Soccio L. Recurrent dermatitis and dermal hypersensitivity following a jellyfish sting: A case report and review of literature. Pediatr Dermatol 2014;31:217-9.  Back to cited text no. 10

What is new?

  • Clinical lesions of jellyfish stings depend upon the species type
  • Histology may show basal cell layer degeneration.


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]


Print this article  Email this article
    Similar in PUBMED
 Related articles
    Article in PDF (737 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded57    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal