Friday, July 23, 2010

Jellyfish 9-1-1

As every hero must have a tragic flaw, apparently so must every Utopia. Achilles had his heel, Oedipus his excessive pride and Deltaville its jellyfish.

While luckily the sting of the local stinging nettles/sea nettles/jellyfish aren't dangerous to the point of death, they certainly are painful and irritating when you are trying to enjoy a nice day at the beach.  But what can you do to treat those stings?  Some say pee on it.  I always used meat tenderizer.  Some use baking soda.  At Blogfest there was talk of vinegar and sand.  So what really works?  What do the "experts" say you should do?

The first course of action when stung by a jellyfish is to neutralize the stingers.  Unlike bees, jellyfish don't have just one visible stinger you can see to scrape off your skin.  Jellyfish stingers are called nematocysts, are  often harpoon-like and eject from their cells when stimulated by touch or a chemical signals (there are so many things I could say here, but I will keep this PG).  Some believe the best way to neutralize the stingers is to pour urine on the sting.  While many people swear it works, there is no scientific data supporting its effectiveness.  I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I want anyone peeing on my leg, or any other part of my body.  Vinegar is actually the best thing to use to neutralize everything.  Just pour it on the sting (meat tenderizer and baking soda also work if used in a paste form but paste should be made from the saltwater not freshwater and meat tenderizer can cause a rash).

After neutralizing the stingers, you need to remove the ones that might be left on the skin.  The best way to do this is shaving cream and a razor.  I don't know about you, but I typically do my shaving prior to going on the beach.  It's better for everyone that way.  However, if a razor isn't handy, you can also used some sand to rub on the affected area to scrub off whatever might be left.  It's important to remember to neutralize the stingers before trying to remove them (and no you can't see them) from the site as rubbing them can release more venom and spread the sting. 

Better yet, prevent the sting in the first place while also protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays use SafeSea Jellyfish Sting Lotion.  It works by putting a slick coating on your skin that works in several different way.  The slippery texture makes it hard for the stingers to attach to your skin, it absorbs secretions from your skin that tell the jellyfish it's in contact with prey or predator (like a clown fish) and it has chemical stoppers that disrupt the chemical communication required for the sting to occur.  I've heard it works really well.  To the point that one year the company could not keep up with the demand.

Or, you can keep track of the current position of jellyfish swarms by checking out this site designed to track them: NOAA Jellyfish Forecast Personally I think NOAA has way too much time on their hands!


  1. Oh we so need to have this on the list for the next Blogfest! Who knew???

  2. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO SAND.. BAD BAD BAD.. makes it exfoliate the skin around the sting and burn WORSE..


  3. Sand is good AFTER you use the vinegar. The vinegar prevents the stingers to continue stinging then you need to get rid of the "stingers" by shaving or using sand (since I don't know anyone who carries a razor to the beach) If you use sand before neutralizing things then yes, it spreads the sting... I researched all this at work yesterday :)

  4. I say a bottle of that is definitely going on the list for next year's outing to Gywnn's.

  5. I agree, Daryl. I don't want to have to hold up a sheet while someone pees in a cup for medicinal purposes like I did last year! (Though I was certainly happy to do my part for the cause.)

  6. In the spirit of keeping things PG, I will not tell you what that "nematocyst discharged" looks like, but let's just say that Viagra comes to mind.

  7. The best treatment is to just suck it up and deal with it!!! Bwahaha!! I got stung this year at BF, both ankles, but was having too much fun to really worry about it. Or, perhaps, I was having too much WINE to worry about it!!