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Peeing on a Jellyfish Sting: Is it Time for a Golden Shower?

Should you pee on a jellyfish sting?

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You’ve probably heard of the old adage that you’re supposed to pee on a jellyfish sting before removing the tentacles. But, as much fun as it may be to wizz on your friend, a golden shower may actually make things worse.  

Jellyfish are commonly found in coastal waters throughout the world. It has been estimated that there are approximately 100-10,000 species of jellyfish that are dangerous to humans. An estimated 150 million people are stung each year by jellyfish. Roughly 60,000 to 200,000 stings occur annually along the Florida Coast.

“To Pee or Not to Pee?” – Everyone

It is no question. If you are the unfortunate victim of a jellyfish sting, do not pee or have it peed on. Apply vinegar to the sting site for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds are up, manually remove visible tentacles. Vinegar inhibits the discharge of nematocysts (small stinging capsules) and makes it less painful. If you carried beer to the beach instead of vinegar, don’t worry. First, drink the beer, and then manually remove the tentacles. After that, rinse the site with seawater, and treat the pain with hot water or a hot pack. Applying heat is better than cold therapy. Heat alters the structure of toxin proteins.

DO NOT use freshwater because it promotes further stinging by the jellyfish tentacle. Alcohol, urine, ammonia, and meat tenderizer (all common remedies) trigger nematocyst discharge after exposure and worsen pain symptoms. Bottom line: do not pee on a jellyfish sting.

Patients who develop systemic symptoms such as: passing out, allergic reaction, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, stings of the eye, and intolerable pain should contact emergency medical services. If you suffer any of the above listed symptoms, you should seek further medical care.  

Seabather’s Eruption

Seabather’s Eruption is an itchy rash that occurs on parts of the skin covered by a swimsuit. The rash is caused by trapped jellyfish larvae pressing against the skin. Treatment is symptomatic with oral antihistamines (Benadryl, Zyrtec, or Claritin) and anti-itching ointments (Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream). The skin lesions resolve in 1-2 weeks. 

Book Recommendation

Pee on Jellyfish Sting | Is it Time for a Golden Shower? | 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea Book by Jonathan Franklin

Check out 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea by Jonathan Franklin. The main character survives a heck of a lot more than a jellyfish sting.

Alex Schloe

I’m an Air Force Physician stationed in Florida. I'm passionate about travel, photography, wilderness medicine, books, coffee, and Washington Nationals baseball. I’m thrilled to share those passions with you. Favorite Destination: Machu Picchu

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