Jeff Hirschberg, MD
INTERNAL MEDICINE

Dr. Hirschberg completed his residency in Texas in 2009 and has been at Pali Momi Medical Center in Aiea, Hawaii since 2011. He’s passionate about his work and cares deeply about his patients, many of whom he is on a first name basis with. He believes the ease and comfort of WePrescribe will only improve medical care and the doctor-patient relationship.

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Jellyfish Sting

Jellyfish are soft-bodied aquatic animals with an umbrella-shaped upper body and tentacles. The tentacles have tiny sacs or nematocysts that contain venom. They live in freshwater, coastal waters and in deep oceans. This article discusses jellyfish stings and how to heal a jellyfish sting. 

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Jellyfish Sting

Do they sting?

Some of the jellyfish sting, but very few are dangerous. People wading in shallow waters and swimming in the oceans are at the greatest risk of being stung by them.

Are jellyfish poisonous?

Although jellyfish cause painful stings, most of the time it does little harm. Nonetheless, box jellyfish are apart of a large group of jelly fish species. You can find the most dangerous varieties in the Indo-Pacific region, for instance.

They are able to see, propel, and sting when in close distance even without physical contact. Some varieties’ stings that can be fatal.

The Portugese man-of-war is not a jellyfish, but has tentacles that can break off and drift to the beach. As a result, the tentacles can have active cysts that can sting if you come in contact with them. Additionally, it can be poisonous. Deaths from stings by man-of-war, however, are rare with only two reported in the last fifty years. To add, both cases were due to an allergic reaction people had to it’s venom.

How to avoid jellyfish stings

Avoid touching jellyfish, dead or alive.

Symptoms of a sting

Symptoms of a sting include, for example:

  • Localized stinging pain
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Welts
  • You may feel nauseous, develop diarrhea, experience abdominal pain, and muscle spasms

Should I urinate on a jellyfish sting?

It is not advised to urinate on a jellyfish sting. If your urine happens to be alkaline, then as a result it could worsen the sting and release more toxins.

How to heal a jellyfish sting

Healing a jellyfish sting includes, for example:

  • Use a stick and remove any remaining tentacles. If you used clothing items to remove the tentacles, discard them and do not wear it again.
  • Rinse the area in seawater, not freshwater.
  • Soak or rinse the area in vinegar for 30 seconds. If you cannot find vinegar, continue to rinse in seawater.
  • Do not touch the area with bare hands, as tiny cysts could still be there and, therefore, you could sting your hands.
  • Do not apply ice or hot water.
  • Apply shaving cream and use a razor or credit card to shave the area, to remove any remaining cysts.
  • For eye stings, use a commercial saline solution.
  • For mouth stings, use 1/4th strength vinegar and gargle with it.
  • If the person feels nauseous or experiences abdominal pain, seek medical help immediately.

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