Diagnosing jellyfish stings generally doesn't require a visit to a health care provider. If you do go, your provider will likely be able to diagnose your injury by looking at it.

Your health care provider may collect samples of the stingers to help guide treatment.


Treatment for jellyfish stings includes first-aid care and medical treatment.

First-aid care

Most jellyfish stings can be treated as follows:

  1. Carefully pluck visible tentacles with a fine tweezers.
  2. Soak the skin in hot water. Use water that's 110 to 113 F (43 to 45 C). It should feel hot, not scalding. Keep the affected skin immersed or in a hot shower until the pain eases, which might be 20 to 45 minutes.
  3. Apply 0.5% to 1% hydrocortisone cream or ointment twice a day to the affected skin.

Steps to avoid

These actions are unhelpful or unproved:

  • Scraping out stingers
  • Rinsing with human urine
  • Rinsing with cold, fresh water
  • Applying meat tenderizer
  • Applying alcohol, ethanol or ammonia
  • Rubbing with a towel
  • Applying pressure bandages

Medical treatment

  • Emergency care. Someone having a severe reaction to a jellyfish sting may need cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), life support or, if the sting is from a box jellyfish, antivenom medication.
  • Oral medicine. A delayed rash or other skin reaction may be treated with oral antihistamines or corticosteroids. You may also be given oral pain medicine.
  • Eye flushing. A jellyfish sting on or near the eye generally requires immediate medical care to control pain and flush the eye.
Aug. 06, 2022
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  3. Briggs JK. Bites, marine animal. In: Triage Protocols for Aging Adults. Wolters Kluwer; 2019.
  4. Li L, et al. Interventions for the symptoms and signs resulting from jellyfish stings. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013; doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009688.pub2/abstract.
  5. Ward NT, et al. Evidence-based treatment of jellyfish stings in North America and Hawaii. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2012; doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.04.010.
  6. Auerbach PS. In reply to evidence-based treatment of jellyfish stings in North America and Hawaii. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2013; doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.07.128.
  7. Marine envenomations: Jellyfish & hydroid stings. Divers Alert Network. https://dan.org/alert-diver/article/marine-envenomations-jellyfish-hydroid-stings/. Accessed April 28, 2022.
  8. Hornbeak KB, et al. Marine envenomation. Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America. 2017; doi:10.1016/j.emc.2016.12.004.
  9. Lakkis NA, et al. Jellyfish stings: A practical approach. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine. 2015; doi:org/10.1016/j.wem.2015.01.003.
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