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No More Myths: The Truth Behind How to Heal a Jellyfish Sting

Source: Hakai Magazine/Ilima Loomis - May 16, 2017 in Adventure, Featured

No More Myths: The Truth Behind How to Heal a Jellyfish Sting
Photo: L Church/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Nothing ruins a day at the beach faster than a jellyfish sting. The animal’s venomous tentacles can stick to arms and legs, delivering burning pain to a large swath of skin. In severe cases, the stings can be life-threatening. And yet, the most common first-aid guidelines not only fail to ease the pain, they can even make the sting worse.

In a new research paper, scientists tested different ways of treating jellyfish stings and revealed some surprising finds. Rinsing with seawater, for example, only spreads the sting to a larger area. Scraping off the tentacles with a credit card—a method recommended even by well-respected healthcare organizations—is an equally bad strategy. Scraping the wound applies pressure that causes stingers to release more venom.

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