Lionfish sting

A lionfish is a venomous fish species that camouflages itself against rocky terrains or coral reefs. It is covered with prickly spines that contain toxic venom. Even though they do not attack humans, they can be territorial and cause painful stings with the potential to release venom.

A lionfish sting can occur if exposed to the fish in deep waters, particularly divers. A sting can also occur if handling the fish, either alive or dead. In addition, those who keep a lionfish as a pet might be at risk as well.

What are the signs?

The indications of a lionfish sting tend to vary on the type of species the individual was exposed to and amount of venom injected.

The symptoms might be mild or severe and typically includes:

  • Intense stinging pain
  • Bleeding and edema
    Lionfish sting

    A sting can also occur if handling the fish, either alive or dead.

  • Skin rashes with bruising
  • Blister formation
  • Sweating
  • Erratic heart rate with low blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Allergic reaction in some cases
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stomach cramping
  • Nausea and/or vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of consciousness


If an individual is suspected with a lionfish sting, call for emergency assistance right away.

While waiting for the medical team to arrive, the following must be done:

  • Move the individual away from the water
  • Note down the time of incident
  • You can try to remove the stinger if it is visible by carefully scraping the site with a solid-edged object or a pair of tweezers
  • Place hot water to inactivate any leftover toxin
  • Apply pressure to stop the bleeding
  • Do not provide anything by mouth to the individual

The outcome is based on the strength of the toxin, seriousness of a reaction and timely way treatment is delivered.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a lionfish sting is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to properly manage the injury, register for a first aid and CPR course with Kelowna First Aid.