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How to Treat a Jellyfish Sting

Usually, jellyfish are fairly harmless. But sometimes, a day at the beach can lead to a stingy situation.


  • : Jellyfish stings can cause severe allergic reactions and death. If the victim shows signs of progressive symptoms including nausea, difficulty breathing, and chest pain, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Step 1: Leave the sting alone Your first instinct may be to scratch the sting site, but try to leave it alone. Rubbing or patting the affected area may release more venom and spread the sting.
  • Step 2: Consult the lifeguard Lifeguards will generally have a sting treatment kit available. Contact them immediately and alert them to your situation.
  • Step 3: Wash the area Pour seawater over the affected area. Don’t use fresh or bottled water -- this can activate the toxins and intensify the sting.
  • Step 4: Remove remnants With gloved hands or tweezers, remove any tentacles you can see still clinging to the sting site.
  • TIP: Do not remove tentacles with bare hands. The jellyfish venom may still be active.
  • Step 5: Take a vinegar bath Wash the sting site with vinegar, which helps to neutralize the jellyfish poison. In a pinch, rubbing alcohol or baking soda will also work.
  • TIP: Although peeing on a jellyfish sting is a common folk remedy, it only works if the urine is acidic -- like if you’ve been taking vitamin C tablets, for example.
  • Step 6: Have a fake shave Cover the sting site with shaving cream, and scrape it off with a dull, flat edge. This will remove any remaining tentacles.
  • Step 7: Rinse again Again, use seawater to rinse off the area.
  • Step 8: Take a pain reliever Take the recommended dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • Step 9: Visit the doctor Check in with your physician -- they may prescribe additional treatments to alleviate pain. Also, if it's been more than ten years since your last tetanus shot, you may need an injection.
  • FACT: Poisons in jellyfish tentacles can stay active for up to six months.

You Will Need

  • Seawater
  • Vinegar
  • Gloves or tweezers
  • Shaving cream and a flat edge
  • An over-the-counter pain reliever
  • A doctor
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Baking Soda

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