This is the Most Effective Jellyfish Sting Cure (It's not Urine)

Fagjun | Published 2017-05-09 08:35

What is the best jellyfish sting cure? There have been a lot of suggestions over the years, each one with people swearing to their efficacy. However, it turns out that a lot of these techniques actually cause more harm than good.

A re-watch of the earlier seasons of Friends might remind you of the time the gang went to the beach in Montauk, and Monica suffered an extremely painful jellyfish sting. Joey remembered watching something about jellyfish stings on the Discovery channel, and recalled that urine will take away the sting.

On the show, urinating on the area where the jellyfish stung Monica was effective. However, is there any truth to the comedy?

A Bona Fide Jellyfish Sting Cure

Portuguese man o' war are no joke.
[Photo by © Stephen Frink/sf@stephenfrink.com/Corbis]

TV doesn't always reflect reality, so we'd do well to take the things we learn from hows and movies with a grain of salt. Other jellyfish sting remedies include the application of lemon juice, shaving foam, and icy seawater. Researchers recently published a study that assessed the efficacy of known remedies for stings from a Portuguese man o' war jellyfish. Their findings revealed that common suggestions, including the ones that scientists themselves make, have been wrong.

The researchers suspended sheep and human blood cells in agar and tested different remedies on the mixture. In the course of the study, the researchers found what was wrong with each of the remedies they tested. Rinsing the wound with urine would apparently make the stinging worse.

Lemon juice, shaving cream, and other remedies like baking soda, soap, and alcohol would also aggravate the injury. Seawater, meanwhile, will spread the jellyfish venom. The researchers also found that applying cold packs to the area of the sting is a bad idea. The pressure will only make the venom capsules release more venom and thus worsen the injury. Scraping remaining tentacles away also has the same effect.

So, which jellyfish sting cure won't make the problem even bigger? Researchers say that rinsing the wound with vinegar then applying heat is the best course of action. The vinegar will prevent capsules from releasing any more venom, which makes removing remaining tentacles safer. Applying heat, meanwhile, will prevent red blood cells from dying. The victim can either submerge the affected body part in 45ºC water or apply a heatpack.

A Jellyfish by Any Other Name (Stings Just as Bad)

Technically, Portuguese man o' war aren't even real jellyfish. They're siphonophores, and while they resemble jellyfish, the resemblance is superficial.

So if Portuguese man o' war, which were used in this study, aren't actually jellyfish, then how can we be sure that the vinegar-and-heat remedy will work? The researchers say that we need to treat all stings equally, which means that this jellyfish sting cure will work whether or not the stings are from a real jellyfish.

However, they still need to confirm that assertion. They will be studying lion mane jellyfish later on to see if the vinegar-and-heat remedy does indeed work. If it does, then we may have a one-size-fits-all jellyfish sting cure.

If only Monica knew about this.

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