Myth Debunked: Peeing on Jellyfish Stings Is Actually Bad for You
Newsflash: you're probably treating those jellyfish stings wrong. A quick online search will yield plenty of do-it-yourself cures for the painful jellyfish sting, but few of those quick fixes are actually true. In fact, a new study published in the journal Toxins revealed that many of the well-known jellyfish treatments - peeing in the sting is one of the most popular -- is not only ineffective, but harmful.
According to a report from UPI, researchers used a human tissue model and exposed it to two box jelly species: the Hawaiian box jelly Alatina alata and the Australian box jelly Chironex fleckeri. The latter is known to be the largest box jelly in the world. Surprisingly, box jellies are even more deadly than sharks with dozens of people dying of their stings every year.
The researchers then experimented on the exposed tissue, using commonly recommended treatments.
"Anyone who Googles 'how to treat a jellyfish sting' will encounter authoritative web articles claiming the best thing to do is rinse the area with seawater, scrape away any remaining tentacles, and then treat the sting with ice," said lead researcher Angel Yanagihara, an assistant research professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's John A. Burns School of Medicine.
The scientists tested the abovementioned treatments and revealed that they make the jellyfish sting worse. Specifically, the scientists found that many of the well-known remedies caused the tentacles to release even more venom. This includes urinating on the affected area.
"Less than one percent of stinging cells on a tentacle actually fire when you're first stung," explained fellow author Christie Wilcox, who is a postdoctoral fellow at JABSOM. "So anything you do that moves the tentacles or adherent stinging cell capsules around has the potential to increase the amount of venom injected into you by many fold."
Should you find yourself the victim of a jellyfish sting, there are a few easy treatments that have proven effective like rinsing the sting with vinegar and plucking out the tentacles from your skin using tweezers. There are also commercial products like the Department of Defense's Sting No More Spray and Cream that can help.