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How to Treat a Jellyfish Sting (Hint: Don't Pee on It)

July 19, 2018

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Nothing can ruin a perfect day at the beach quite like the unexpected pain of a jellyfish sting.  However, the good news is that jellyfish stings are very treatable and rarely life threatening.  Here's what to do (and what not to do) in case a jellyfish gets a little too close to you or a family member.


  1. Get out of the water

If you have been stung, get out of the water immediately to reduce the risk of being stung again.


  1. DO NOTrinse off the affected area with distilled water

It could actually increase the pain — the cells that cause the sting will actually release more venom. It is best to rinse with saltwater.


  1. Peeing on the stung is not a remedy

Though the origin of this myth is unknown, it is widely — but falsely — believed that urinating on a jellyfish sting will alleviate the pain and remedy the situation.  To reiterate, this is a complete myth.


  1. Vinegar will stop the sting

Rinse the area with vinegar for at least 30 seconds to immediately relieve the pain.


  1. Apply heat

While many medical professionals advise icing a jellyfish sting, the cold actually preserves the venom that’s already been injected. It is actually heat that will deactivate and numb the venom.

After rinsing the area with saltwater, apply a heat pack or hot water.  Remove any tentacles with a pair of tweezers.


  1. Treat Discomfort

Use a hydrocortisone cream or an oral antihistamine to relieve itching, swelling or any lingering pain.


  1. Seek help for any severe symptoms

Though jellyfish stings are incredibly common and typically not dangerous, in rare cases one might experience vomiting, trouble walking, nausea, headaches, and seizures. If this happens, seek emergency help immediately.

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