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Why do lionfish stings cause so much pain?

Updated: May 13

As you may know, we’re in the business of stings. More specifically, understanding how lionfish stings causes so much pain, and finding ways to block that pain. To make things a little clearer, we’d like to share some of the information we’ve learned over the years that explain why lionfish stings hurt so darn much.

First of all, the pain caused by lionfish stings is due to toxins that are found in its venom. Lionfish have long spines all along their backs, and in each of these spines are ridges that contain venom. In the case of the lionfish, the venom is a cocktail of molecules that have been honed by millions of years of evolution to accomplish one task: produce excruciating pain. If the venom were to kill victims, then they wouldn’t survive to respect the lesson they learned: don’t touch the lionfish. However, pain is a powerful deterrent and individual animals maintain the memory of that excruciating pain and will go near the lionfish in the future.


So why does lionfish venom cause so much pain? It has specific toxins that activate the pain-sensing system in our nerves to cause the most amount of pain possible.

What does that mean? Well, as you know, nerve endings responsible for the sensation of touch and pain are embedded in your skin. These nerve endings are covered with receptors, some of which can bind the toxins from the lionfish venom. Upon binding the toxin, they generate an electric signal in the pain cells, causing us to feel pain.


We’ve figured out how toxins in lionfish venom activate these pain cells, and came up with a way to prevent it. With this information, we picked specific ingredients for our ointment that can block the toxin’s ability to activate the pain cells, allowing sting victims to find pain relief.

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Have any questions? We love talking science, especially lionfish science. Drop us a line at either stephanie@pterotech.ca or reza@pterotech.ca!




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