In one June weekend alone, more than 800 people had to be treated for jellyfish stings in the state of Florida. This surge was due to winds and currents in the area, so while not typically that common, it’s something everyone needs to cognizant about.
Around 150 million people are exposed to jellyfish each year. These creatures can be found in every ocean, and even in some freshwater lakes and ponds. Baby jellyfish can be as small as a coin, but some of the bigger ones can span eight feet in diameter with 200-foot long tentacles.
Jellyfish have cells called cnidoblasts that contain something called nematocysts. Each nematocyst contains a coiled stinging thread. When you get too close to a jellyfish, its tentacles can get tangled around you, causing pressure inside the nematocysts to build up, which causes the stinging – and boy can they hurt!
How to Relieve the Pain of a Jellyfish Sting
While you might have heard that urine helps to relieve the pain of jellyfish stings, there’s actually no evidence that proves this to be true. In fact, some experts go as far as to say that urine is completely ineffective when it comes to jellyfish stings. Therefore, if you get stung and ask your friend to pee on you, you’re going to be smelling of urine and still in pain.
So what should you do?
Well, first things first: Call for medical help. They’ll be able to help you the most. If you’re in an area where you find a professional, keep the following tips in mind.
One of the best things you can do if you happen to get stung is to get out of the water immediately and rinse the affected area with some salty ocean water. Tap water can actually reactivate jellyfish stinging cells, so it’s best to use salt water.
If you happen to have some vinegar handy, this can also be used to relieve the pain. Like ocean water, vinegar can help to protect the affected area. Just make sure that you’re not using too much pressure when treating the infected spot, as this can make the pain worse.
Furthermore, you’ll want to remove any visible tentacles after you get stung. You can use tweezers to pull them out, or even try to squeeze them out using some kind of sharp, hard surface, such as a credit card.
You’ll also want to soak the affected area with some hot water (somewhere between 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit). Let it soak for 20-45 minutes.
Lastly, be sure to grab some antihistamine or steroid cream from a local health store to help with the pain and healing process. If you visit your doctor for the sting, they’ll be able to prescribe one for you.