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Tips on soothing a jellyfish sting

We had been on the beach in Phuket for a mere five minutes before my mother in law came running out of the sea shouting ‘i’ve been stung by a jellyfish!’  Whilst we nodded in sympathy, it wasn’t until my brother-in-law went back in for a paddle that he announced the sea was infested and Grandma Beth hadn’t been exaggerating.

Jellyfish on Kata Beach

Jellyfish on Kata Beach

So what should you do if you’ve been stung by a jellyfish?  Here are some tips and advice.  You’ll be pleased to know that Grandma Beth is absolutely fine:

  • Go in educated.  Check when the ‘jellyfish season’ is in play for the beach area you’re visiting.  Some beaches e.g. in Queensland, Australia actually have ‘stinger nets’ to prevent them making their way to the swimming areas.  Most jellyfish aren’t fatal but you wouldn’t want to get in the path of a box or irukandji jellyfish.

    If you see this... run!

    If you see this… run!

  • If you have been stung, don’t panic in the water – especially if you are far from shore.  
  • A la Monica in Friends, we all suggested Grandma Beth cover her jellyfish sting in urine.  But having since researched this (and I when I say ‘research’ I mean google), it turns out that urine is actually useless on a jellyfish sting and could cause more pain.
  • Keep dousing the sting with saltwater (freshwater changes the balance of the solutes and might cause more pain).
  • Seek help from someone on the beach, from a lifeguard to a beach cafe.  After Grandma Beth got stung, a kind man selling coconuts, found some leaves growing behind the beach and ground them up for her to place on the sting.  These leaves held an immediate soothing effect, great local knowledge!
  • Use vinegar to neutralize the stinger.  I’m not sure how many people can actually get hold of vinegar on a beach but apparently this works.
  • Have a super hot shower.  This may deactivate the venom of some jellyfish.
  • Take an antihistamine
  • If you are worried (breathing trouble etc), seek medical attention.

For more tips, check out this brilliant article that tells you why a jellyfish stings and how to treat it

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