Beach Injuries – Prevention and Treatment

In southern California and many other parts of the world, the beach is calling your name! Make it a great beach outing by staying safe and preventing injuries.

Here are the most common safety issues at the beach:


  • Exit the water and scrape the tentacles off your skin with a flat surface like a driver’s license or credit card.
  • Do NOT pull the tentacles off with your hands unless you have protective gloves.
  • Rinse the sting with seawater then vinegar, then soak in hot water.
  • Do NOT urinate on the sting, which could cause the stingers to release more venom.


  • Shuffle your feet when entering the ocean to cause the stingrays to swim away.
  • If you do get stung, exit the water and apply direct pressure with a clean cloth or towel to stop any bleeding.
  • Remove small barbs of the stinger with tweezers, but do NOT remove from the chest or abdomen.
  • Soak the wound in hot water.
  • Seek medical attention to determine if you need further treatment.
  • If you receive a penetrating wound in your head, chest, or abdomen, call 911 immediately!


  • If the beach has lots of shells or rocks, consider wearing aqua shoes to keep your feet safe.


  • If you’re playing volleyball or other sport on the sand, be careful when running or jumping in areas with varying sand heights.
  • If you awkwardly plant your foot or someone steps on it, you might suffer an ankle sprain. Possible symptoms include pain, swelling, redness, and warmth.
  • For a sprain:
    • Ice the ankle for 20 minutes at a time with some type of thin towel between the ice pack and the skin
    • Rest the ankle
    • Keep the ankle elevated
    • Possibly take anti-inflammatory medications
  • If you cannot walk on your ankle after 1-2 days, or if the pain is severe and does not improve in a few days, it is advisable to see your physician to evaluate for a fracture.


  • Fill up your water bottles with WATER, not with caffeinated drinks that dehydrate you.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol at the beach, as it could both dehydrate your body and also affect your mental faculties in staying safe around the ocean.


  • Pick a safe beach – check your local beach website, such as County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health, for the status of the water quality and strong tides.
  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • Swim near a lifeguard tower.
  • If you’re caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore and yell for help.


  • See our article on sunscreen protection and treatment for sunburns.

Your best bet is to take a beach first aid kit with you – make sure it includes sunscreen, aloe, gauze, bandage strips, alcohol wipes, antiseptic swabs, antibacterial wipes, sting relief swabs, tweezers, Ibuprofen, and aspirin.

If you do receive an injury at our San Diego beaches, please come in to one of our offices for treatment. No appointment is needed at our Pacific Beach Urgent Care location – give us a call at 858-224-7977!

The content provided in our website blogs is offered for informational purposes only, and it should not be considered as the practice of medicine or medical advice regarding the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition or disease. You should consult with a medical professional if you have any questions regarding a condition or disease in relation to your specific healthcare needs. If you feel that you are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911 immediately.

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