The best treatment for you may depend on the type of jellyfish that stung you. But most stings can be treated with these simple remedies:
- Remove stingers. Remove any pieces of jellyfish tentacle in your skin by rinsing the wound with seawater. You can also try gently scraping off the stingers with the edge of an ID card or a credit card. Avoid getting sand on the wound. And don't rinse with fresh water or rub the area with a towel, as these actions may activate more stingers.
- Rinse with vinegar or apply a baking soda paste. Rinse the affected area with vinegar for about 30 seconds. Or apply a paste of baking soda and seawater. Each method may deactivate the stingers of some types of jellyfish.
- Take a hot shower or apply ice packs. Hot water — as hot as you can tolerate but not above 113 F (45 C) — and ice packs may help ease pain.
- Take a pain reliever and apply lotions. Apply calamine lotion or lidocaine to help relieve itching and discomfort.
Remedies to avoid
These remedies are unhelpful or unproved:
Aug. 09, 2014
- Human urine
- Meat tenderizer
- Solvents, such as formalin, ethanol and gasoline
- Pressure bandages
- Auerbach PS, et al. Field Guide to Wilderness Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier, 2013. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 27, 2014.
- Cegolon L, et al. Jellyfish stings and their management: A review. Marine Drugs. 2013;11:523.
- Purcell JE. Jellyfish in Chesapeake Bay and nearby waters. NOAA Ocean Service Education. http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/lessons/stinging_sea_append.html. Accessed April 2, 2014
- Li L, et al. Interventions for the symptoms and signs resulting from jellyfish stings. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009688.pub2/abstract. Accessed April 1, 2014.
- Ward NT, et al. Evidence-based treatment of jellyfish stings in North America and Hawaii. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2012;60:399.
- Auerbach PS. In reply to evidence-based treatment of jellyfish stings in North America and Hawaii. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2013;61:253.
- Lebwohl MG, et al. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier, 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 27, 2014.
- Marcus EN, et al. Jellyfish stings. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 27, 2014.
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