Most jellyfish stings can be treated by rinsing the area with salt water, applying vinegar or a baking soda paste, and taking a pain reliever.
Someone having a severe reaction to a jellyfish sting needs emergency care that may include:
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Life support to stabilize breathing, heart rate and blood pressure
- Antivenin medication, if the sting is from a box jellyfish
- Pain medicine
Other medical treatments
Other circumstances also may require doctor-supervised treatment:
Sept. 15, 2015
- A rash or other skin reaction due to delayed hypersensitivity may be treated with oral antihistamines or corticosteroids.
- A jellyfish sting occurring on or near an eye requires immediate medical care for pain control and a good eye flushing. You will likely be seen by a doctor specializing in eye care (ophthalmologist).
- 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.