By: Shivin Shah, Ascend Internationa School, Mumbai
More than 150 million jellyfish stings happen in the world each year. Shivin Shah, was stung by jellyfish on the beaches of Goa. Shivin is fond of the ocean and was playing in shallow waters when he was stung in three different spots by jellyfish.
“Once I got stung in the sea it didn't hurt until I was outside the water. People watched as I ran around on the beach screaming in pain. It felt as if my arm and legs were on fire! My family helped me by applying vinegar and water on my hand. Someone suggested putting pee (urine) on it – we had to try it, but I don’t think that helped me. The stings on my hand hurt for about two weeks, though the pain was mild after a few days.”
Why does a jellyfish sting?
Jellyfish are sea creatures that live in all the world’s oceans. They have soft, bell-shaped bodies with lengthy tentacles.
Many jellyfish have stinging cells called nematocysts in their tentacles. These cells contain a poisonous substance (venom) that helps jellyfish protect themselves. The venom also helps them capture food by stinging it. Some of the jellyfish whose stings can be serious include box jellyfish, lion’s mane, Portuguese man-of-war, and sea nettle.
First Aid for Mild Jellyfish Stings
- If you are stung at the beach or in the ocean, pour sea water onto the part of your body that was stung. Do not use fresh water.
- Use tweezers to remove any tentacles you see in your skin.
- Next, apply vinegar or rubbing alcohol (don’t rub the region at all!) to the affected area to stop the burning feeling and the release of the toxin.
- After you have poured vinegar on the site, apply shaving cream or a mixture of baking soda and sea water. When this is dry, scrape the mixture off with a card or plastic knife.
- To help reduce the pain, apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream. You can also use an ice pack or hot water to help with the pain and swelling.
Myth Buster: Peeing on a jellyfish sting does NOT help reduce the pain.