Treatment for Jellyfish Stings
First aid for the beach
If you are stung by a jellyfish on holiday:
Carefully and quickly remove the tentacles
If there are any tentacles on your skin carefully remove them. If you leave them on the skin they will continue to discharge venom.
- Use a credit card, sand, clothing, seaweed or anything else that is available to dislodge the tentacles
- Do not rub the area with your hands because the pressure from your hands will trigger the stingers to inject venom
- Do not use fresh water (see below)
Reduce the effect of the stingers
Try to reduce the effect of the remaining nematocysts (stingers) in your skin
- Rinse the area with vinegar, urine, wine
- Do not use fresh water as this will make the pain worse (see below)
Why not fresh water?
Jellyfish live in salt water, they like salt and not a fresh water environment. If you use fresh water on the area the stinger cells in your skin will start to get destroyed and they will burst and release toxin causing pain. So rinse the area with something salty.
Pain will depend on the type of jellyfish and how long you were in contact with it. The pain will last anything from a few minutes to several days, or even longer. The quicker you try to minimise the effects the less pain you will generally suffer. The jellyfish tentacles are covered with nematocysts. Sometimes these nematocysts are left behind in the skin and if triggered they can inject venom into your skin.
Jellyfish in the UK do not kill people, however they might give you a nasty sting. If you develop a rash, itching, shortness of breath, swelling then you should go to hospital immediately.