Jellyfish Stings

October 30, 2021

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Can peeing on a jellyfish sting help treat it? 

No, in spite of what you may have heard, peeing on a jellyfish sting is not a great idea.  There is a good chance it will sting even more to do so.  I cannot imaging how many people found this out the hard way! I am routinely asked this question and most everyone that asks references the iconic episode of Friends with Joey, Chandler and Monica at the beach. 

 

 

After someone is stung by a jellyfish, what should they immediately do to treat it on the beach and back at home?

 

Jellyfish leave behind stingers called nematocysts or tentacles in the skin.  There can be thousands of them.  These stingers continue to release their venom into the skin causing pain, itching and burning.  If you have vinegar, rinse this over the area (adding a small bottle to a first aid kit is a good idea).  If you do not have vinegar, think warm or hot water (not scalding just warm) to ease pain, NOT ice or cold water as this will worsen the pain.  Salt water is preferable to freshwater. If you have tweezers, use these to remove the little stingers (if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to add tweezers to your first aid kit).  If you do not have tweezers, two credit cards pushing towards each other can be used as make shift tweezers.  If you have vinegar, rinse this over the area (adding a small bottle to a first aid kit is another good idea).  If you do not have vinegar, think warm or hot water (not scalding just warm) to ease pain, NOT ice or cold water as this will worsen the pain .

 



 

If tweezers aren't available, what might someone use to remove stingers? 

 

If tweezers are not available on the beach, there are few life hacks that may work in this setting:

  • taking two credit cards pressing towards each other to grip the stingers.  
  • taking two popsicle sticks and gently pressing towards each other.
  • take sand that is slightly wet to form a paste- cover the area. Let it dry, then take a credit card to scrape away.


What are the best OTC remedies for pain and a rash or hives? 

Pain relief with hydrocortisone or calamine lotion is helpful.  Antihistamines by mouth can reduce swelling and inflammation.










What signs indicate someone should seek emergency medical care for a jellyfish sting?

If there is any sign of shortness or breath or difficulty breathing, muscle cramps, blisters, nausea or vomiting, swelling of the lips/eyes/or tongue, trouble swallowing, numbness, it is important to seek emergency care.  

 

After self-care for a sting, what signs indicate someone should see a doctor and why?

 

A persistent rash that is potentially worsening or not resolving is reasonable to seek out care. Severe pain, tenderness or any signs of anaphylaxis warrant medical attention.

 






Tags jellyfish

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