Life skills: What to do if you're stung by a jellyfish

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Put that away, peeing on it is not the answer…

Jellyfish

© Flickr/ Sebastian Anthony

The British Red Cross have issued guidelines on what to do if you get stung by a jellyfish, after there have been increasing numbers spotted along the British coastline.

According to the Marine Conservation Society, the growing presence of the stinging sea creatures have been brought over by the warm weather.

However if you're heading off on a beach break, think before you pee if someone gets stung, as far from helping, peeing on someone can actually do more harm than good.

A blog post on the Red Cross' website reads, 'The hoary old myth that urinating on jellyfish stings lessens the pain is still surprisingly popular in the UK, despite medically making no sense at all. (Really, think about it. It's like saying you should vomit on someone with German measles.)'

Urine contains properties that can be react with the stinging cells that inject venom into the skin – meaning not only are you humiliating your mate by peeing on them in public, you are making the pain worse.

So what should you do?


Get out of the water immediately - get a friend to help you if needed. Try to remain calm, the pain will pass.

Once out, pour seawater over the area. This works better than freshwater to lessen the pain.

If you have a plastic card to hand - such as a debit or credit card - then get a friend to scrape it over the sting.

It sounds pretty awful but if they firmly scrape the card edge over the sting they can remove some of the poison and tentacles. You (or they) should be able to see the poison begin to seep out of the sting as they scrape at the surface.

After some of the poison has been drawn out with the card (this should only take about 30 seconds) pour vinegar over the sting. This is will help with the pain as the acid neutralises the sting.

In places with frequent jellyfish attacks, head to a local pharmacy which often sell bottles of vinegar over the counter. Alternatively ask at seaside restaurants or go prepared with vinegar in sachets or small travel bottles.

Most importantly - if the sting doesn't lessen in pain within half an hour seek immediate medical advice.

It's also worth looking out for signs along the sea front as many councils (especially in southern Europe) put up posters to help you identify different jellyfish.

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