Myth busting: Should you really pee on a jellyfish sting?

Planning to go to the beach this summer? If you happen to cross paths with an angry jellyfish and you get stung, please know that there is no need to embarrass yourself by asking a friend to pee on your wound.

A subscriber to our Facebook page recently shared this article that recounts a scene from the TV show Friends in which Monica gets stung by a jellyfish and takes Joey’s advice. That evening at supper, her friends could not look her in the eyes.

It should also be pointed out that beer or any form of alcohol is also a very bad idea since jellyfish nematocysts react by burning the skin even more. Ocean water is less irritating, but you run the risk of having the jellyfish’s tentacles stick to another part of your body.

So is there a miracle cure? Two researchers at the University of Hawaii in Mānoa recently tested all known “home remedies” and concluded that good old vinegar was the most effective. If you do not have vinegar on hand, a mix of baking soda and water is also a good substitute.

Here are the steps for treating a jellyfish sting:
What to look for:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Rash
  • Swelling
Brightly lit jellyfish swimming in crystal blue watersFirst Aid:
  1. Wash the area with vinegar for at least 30 seconds. If vinegar isn’t available, use a mixture of baking soda and water (to make a consistency like toothpaste) and leave it on the area for 20 minutes. Then immerse the affected area in hot water (as tolerated) for 20 minutes or as long as the pain persists. Do not rub the area.
  2. While wearing gloves, remove any tentacles or pieces of the animal.
  3. Scrape or shave the area with a razor or the edge of a knife.
  4. Perform a secondary survey and treat any non-life-threatening conditions:
    • Put a cold pack on the area for the first hour to reduce the pain.
  5. After the area dries, apply a cream as recommended by a pharmacist after checking the Five Rights of Medication.
Download our free first aid app redcross/apps to have useful resources at your fingertips. 

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