There are so many CPR and First Aid myths out there it’s quite remarkable. One of my favorites is that you should pee on jellyfish stings. What in the world!?
This has been perpetuated even on some of the most popular TV shows on television. NBC’s Friends even had an episode that lampooned the myth that you should pee on a jellyfish sting. It’s funny, let’s face it. Especially cause it doesn’t work.
Where did this jellyfish sting myth come from? I just wonder what is going on in someone’s mind where they would think, “Hey – this jellyfish sting hurts – so I am going to pee on it”. Cause that makes everything better??
Anyway – Jellyfish stings aren’t going to be helped by peeing on them. Just don’t do that. It can make the stings worse actually.
Jellyfish stings happen when you come into contact with the little stringies that hang down underneath the jellyfish. On these stringies are nematocysts. When you touch them, they kind of turn inside out, shooting a really thin stinger string into you releasing venom into your body. I can’t believe this hasn’t been made into a science fiction movie actually. It’s pretty horrifying and amazing at the same time.
Urine can actually make the jellyfish’s nematocysts aggravated subsequently releasing more venom. Yikes.
Pee belongs in the toilet, not on your jellyfish stings!
When you pee on a jellyfish sting, it hurts worse – AND YOU WERE JUST PEED ON!
In our CPR certification classes, we teach you how to really deal with jellyfish stings.
If you have jellyfish stings – do the following:
- Keep your hands away from the stung area, so they don’t get stung too
- Rinse with the saltwater from the ocean
- Rinse with vinegar – try to catch the vinegar in a dishpan or something so you can keep using it. Vinegar freezes unactivated stingers, or nematocysts.
- Scrape the tentacles off with a card you don’t need (library card ;-)? )
- Use hot water, as hot as can be tolerated, to soak and reduce pain after the tentacles have been removed
- Call 911 if there is shortness of breath or you are worried the patient is getting worse
There was a study done in Australia recently that indicated there might be problems with using vinegar. Discover Magazine describes the issues and expresses caution in drawing conclusions yet. The media has once again overstepped their reporting in assuming one study, with possible issues with methodology, should single handedly reverse 30 years of effective treatment of jellyfish stings using vinegar.
In summary – use your head and use vinegar, not your pee on jellyfish stings.