Jellyfish Sting Remedies: Fact or Fiction?

About Jellyfish

Jellyfish. Shane Anderson. Public Domain

There are more than 10,000 species of jellyfish, with more than 100 of them being toxic to humans. Over the years, multiple beaches have reported incidences of groups of humans being stung by mass amounts of jellyfish floating offshore. Jellyfish are most often found between the 30 degree south to 45 degree north latitudes.

Because of their body weight in relation to the amount and intensity of jellyfish toxin, children and women are more susceptible to the effects.

Most jellyfish stings do not require medical attention and may be treated at home. If symptoms persist, worsen or are severe, immediate medical attention should be sought. When treating jellyfish stings at home, it is important to be able to differentiate the jellyfish sting remedies that are factual from those that are myth.


Though immediate pain is experienced, experts warn victims of jellyfish stings should not rub the affected area(s).


Vinegar may be applied and followed by the removal of any strings left by the jellyfish. This is to be followed with very hot water. Do not use vinegar on stings that come from the Portuguese man of war. Vinegar will cause the firing of the stinging cells. For this type of jellyfish, the best treatment is to thoroughly rinse the area with either fresh or salt water once the strings are removed.

String Removal

When removing the strings (also called gossamer strings, tendrils or tentacles), do not use your fingers. Swim fins or any other handy object may be used to gently wipe them away.


There is debate as to whether the application of urine to the affected area is helpful or not. Critics argue there is not a strong enough acid content to neutralize the toxin, and it may cause problems with the toxin of certain species. Supporters argue it will help with at least some pain relief and is convenient for immediate relief. Many medical professionals who regularly treat jellyfish stings call this remedy a myth and warn against using it.

Hot or Cold Packs

Some victims report relief from the use or hot or cold packs, though others report no relief whatsoever.

What Not to Do

Do not use meat tenderizer, sugar or alcohol on the sting site(s).

First Aid Kit for the Beach

Those planning a trip to the beach may wish to take along a small first aid kit that contains items that may be needed, including any of several commercial jellyfish sting remedies that are available. One widely recommended commercial product is called Jellyfish Squish. Another commercial product that is widely used is known as Sting Aid.


Jellyfish. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Jellyfish Stings. Mayo Clinic Staff. September 2, 2009.

All About Jellyfish Stings. Elenas-Vieques/John’s Hopkins University.

Image Credit

Jellyfish. Shane Anderson. U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Public Domain.