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What should you do if you’re stung by a jellyfish?

Are you supposed to pee on a jelllyfish sting? I think we’ve all seen that show where a group of friends head to the beach and one gets stung by a jellyfish. The solution…pee. But since that is television and not reality, there’s no point in peeing on a sting since, according to science, it doesn’t work anyway.

That’s right. Peeing on a jellyfish sting does not relieve the pain, as a matter of fact, it could make it worse. Doctors say that urine doesn’t work because it has a pH closer to that of water than anything else and can cause the stinging cells (nematocytes) to swell and release more venom making it worse.

Does vinegar help jellyfish stings? The amount of conflict I’ve found over this is amazing…and all from noted doctors, so I will tell you what I’ve found.

When you get stung by a jellyfish, what has happened is you’ve made contact with its tentacles, triggering thousands of stinging cells called nematocytes. These nematocytes pierce the skin and inject venom.

The only thing I found that doctors agree on is that once stung, the first thing you need to do is remove those tentacles. That’s where the common thought process stops though.

Some medical professionals say to use tweezers to remove the tentacles, while others say to simply scrape them off using something plastic like a credit card and even use shaving cream to get the tentacles to release.

Another what-to-do difference: some say to douse the sting in vinegar, while others say do not apply vinegar, but instead, wash the area with salt water, while others have that on their do-not-do list.

It’s all a bit confusing.

Regardless, the next course of action they do seem to agree on is that you need to soak the sting in hot water, 104 to 113°F, for at least 20 minutes and make sure to have the sting reviewed by a doctor since some stings can cause nausea or breathing problems.

It’s important to note, though, that not all jellyfish stings are equal. Some cause discomfort while others can create serious health concerns and, in some instances, be life-threatening.

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