Now You’re In On the Jellyfish Stings

No Urine on the jellyfish stings!

Don’t do it! Don’t pee on the jellyfish sting!

According to this Scientific American article not only will it not help, it will make it worse. So will fresh water. Your best bet is to rinse with salt water.


Basically osmosis. Remember science class and the idea of sleeping on the book so that the ideas would move into your head by osmosis? Yeah, I wish too…

It works like this, things tend to try to equalize. So if the inside of a cell has a lot of salt in it, and the water around it has none, the salt will move into the fresh water until it reaches a balance where the salt levels are even on both sides.

Now apply that idea to the jellyfish sting. Putting urine or fresh water on the tiny cnidocytes (stingers) left on your skin causes the venom to rush out of the cells to try to balance with the fluid. That means more stinging for you.

What about vinegar?

The above mentioned article seems to support it, but some other articles argue that in certain cases vinegar, just like urine, will make it worse.

The best thing seems to be a good rinse with salt water first and then perhaps isopropyl alcohol. But make sure you have removed anything still attached! Don’t leave a slimy jellyfish tentacle wrapped around your leg! Most things you do to it will release more venom. Get it off first, (NOT with bare fingers!) then start rinsing with the water right there at the beach.

Whatever you do, don’t urinate on it. It won’t help and you and your friends won’t respect each other in the morning.

If you ever end up in that situation, just think about how many shrinkage comments I just helped you avoid…



2 thoughts on “Now You’re In On the Jellyfish Stings

  1. With all due clarification….Vinegar, in particular, 5% acetic acid is recommended on virtually every marine sting caused by a related to animals with nematocysts…jellyfish, hydrozoa, Fire Coral, etc…supoorted by W.H.O., ARC (Australian Resuscitation Council, Red Cross, AHA, Mayo Clinic, NIH and on and on…However, this does NOT include the Portuguese Man o War or Blue bottle which are NOT jellyfish…application of acetic acid/vinegar on this animal injury is not without controversy although never scientifically proven one way or the other…From most accounts, including my own experience, the pain of a MOW sting increases upon application of acetic acid but is reported as if alcohol to an open wound (maybe 3 minutes tops) soon subsides and effective first aid is apparent..It appears as a pain tolerance response issue as others swear by it, including me, so I’d rather have acetic acid as not…the key is heat at 113 degrees (Australian Medical Journal 2008) in combination…after saline solution or salt water rinse….What is a fact…urine does not work !!! 😉 Keep your sunny side up.


    • Thank you for the information, BL. Clarifications and corrections are always helpful. I had no idea the man o war and blue bottle were not jellyfish, I will have to look into that further! The man o war was actually the first thing that always came to mind when I thought of jellyfish! That is the whole point of this. To learn things I didn’t know. And now I do.

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