When jellyfish on a recent beach trip stung my children and me, everyone had their own advice and the one thing I heard the most was “Pee on it!” Luckily, no one had to pee on anyone and we all recovered quickly from our stings. This encounter brought up some interesting discussions about jellyfish treatment and whether or not urine really helps the condition.
While some people swear that peeing on the jellyfish stings helps, my husband, a former medic, says not to. So I decided to find out whether or not the rumors are based on any fact and the conclusion is that to pee on a jellyfish sting is just a myth.
Does it help to pee on a jellyfish sting? While some people have reported relief using this first aid method, there is no scientific evidence to prove this theory to be true. Dr. Paul Auerbach, an emergency physician from Stanford University Hospital is an expert on jellyfish stings and tells us there is no evidence that backs the myth that peeing on a jellyfish actually works.
He says that the best first aid treatment for jellyfish stings from North America is vinegar. You may have heard people say this is because there is acid in the urine just like vinegar, which is a common misconception about why the urine works, too. However, this is not true.
The average human does not have enough acid in their urine to be anything like vinegar and it won’t have a significant impact on the stings, either. Instead of having someone pee on your jellyfish sting, practice these safety and first aid tips instead:
- Get out of the water and away from the jellyfish immediately
- Remove any tentacles wrapped around the skin with a stick or other object to prevent more exposure to the stingers
- Rinse the affected area with seawater (no fresh water that will reactivate the stingers)
- Rinse the area with acetic acid (household white vinegar)
- Avoid rubbing the sting, which further activates the jellyfish stingers (nematocysts)
- Seek emergency treatment if the patient is very young or very old, shows signs of allergic reaction or if infection sets in
Vinegar is still the best treatment for jellyfish stings but if you don’t have any, you can also try baking soda, household ammonia, and lemon or lime juice. There is an after-sting spray made by Sea Safe that will help take the pain out of your sting as well. If you know you are swimming in waters that might have jellyfish, you can just buy some and take it with you.
So if you are unfortunate enough to get stung by a jellyfish on your next trip to the beach, remind well-meaning friends to skip peeing on you and just get you some vinegar instead.