The jellyfish is a magnificent and beautiful sea creature whose 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, on which Joey claimed he heard the fact on The Discovery Channel, leading Chandler to pee on Monica when she is stung at the beach. On television, peeing on the jellyfish sting worked. However, we’re sorry to tell you that in real life, it isn’t quite the foolproof solution.
How Do Jellyfish Sting?
First, let’s talk about how jellyfish sting. There are thousands of microscopic, venomous stingers on jellyfish tentacles. The stinging cells, 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 subside within 24 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 perilous Australian Box jellyfish. Lifeguards administer morphine and anti-venom to the victims of Australian Box jellyfish stings.
Is Pee the Best Way to Combat 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, according to the Mayo Clinic, carefully remove any visible tentacles with a pair of fine tweezers. Avoid physically disturbing the area. Scratching and rubbing may cause more pain and potentially cause more venom to be released.
Next, soak the sting in hot water between 110 to 113 degrees or take a hot shower for 20-45 minutes. Home remedies such as applying meat tenderizer, baking soda, alcohol, or ammonia to the sting site or rinsing with salt water, fresh water, or, yes, human urine are unlikely to help.
Antihistamines can offer some relief if there’s a rash or other skin reaction. Seek medical attention, especially if you become short of breath. Some people will have a severe allergic reaction to the jellyfish venom.
How to Address the Sting:
Jellyfish Sting First Aid: A Recap
- Use hot water on the affected area to slow down the venom and offer some relief.
- Remove visible tentacles.
- Seek out first aid from an expert in emergency medicine, particularly if you are having difficulty breathing.
- Rinse with sea water or fresh water.
- Rub or scratch the stings.
- Use alcohol, baking soda, meat tenderizer, or ammonia on affected areas.
- PEE ON THE STING!!
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 26, 2019.