The jellyfish is a magnificent and beautiful sea creature who’s defense mechanism happens to be about as painful as the being itself is beautiful. It has been said for years that peeing on a jellyfish sting will heal the pain. This is probably literally one of the few times public urination isn’t deemed crazy or gross. Many people undoubtedly got this tidbit from watching the 90’s hit tv show, Friends, where a character claimed he heard the fact on The Discovery Channel. In the show, it’s safe to say that peeing on the jellyfish sting worked. However, sorry to tell you that in real life, it isn’t quite like that.
How Do Jellyfish Sting?
First, let’s talk about how jellyfish sting. There are thousands of microscopic stingers on the jellyfish’s tentacles. The stingers, also called, nematocysts, are typically used for self-defense or to stun their prey. In the event that humans are stung by a jellyfish, it may be out of defense or an accident. Most people feel the sting immediately. Typical symptoms are burning, itching, swelling, and red or purple lash marks of the tentacles on the contacted area.
Most stings will reside within 24 (painful) hours if left alone. Jellyfish venom is extremely painful. Personal genetics, the type of jellyfish, and a few situational factors will determine how severe your reaction is. Some jellyfish have a more mild sting, while others are life-threatening. For example, the Portuguese Man-of-War and the Nettle jellyfish and are less harmful to encounter compared to the almost perilous Australian Box jellyfish. Lifeguards administer morphine and anti-venom to the victims of Australian Box jellyfish stings.
What happens when you pee on a jellyfish sting?
If you are unfortunate enough to be stung by a jellyfish there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost: avoiding physically disturbing the area. Scratching and rubbing may cause more pain and potentially cause more venom to be released. More stingers could be activated due to the imbalanced number of salts and electrolytes in the urine compared to the salt in the jellyfish’s membrane.
How to address the sting:
- Do wash the area with vinegar or salt water to stop the nematocysts from releasing more venom.
- 5 percent acetic acid can also be a good solution. Baking soda and seawater is the best solution if you are looking at the stings of a Lion’s Mane Jellyfish or the Atlantic Sea Nettle in particular.
- Use heat after on the affected area to slow down the venom and offer some relief.
- Do not wash with fresh water. freshwater will upset the balance of salt in the stingers and cause more pain. This happens because the freshwater dilutes the salt on the outside of the cells. The nematocysts will adjust to this change by releasing more venom.
- Use alcohol in the area.
- PEE ON THE STING!!