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Urine Is Not The Best Treatment For Jellyfish Stings

July 22, 2011

It has long been believed that applying urine to jellyfish stings is the best quick treatment for painful jellyfish stings. However, according to the British Red Cross, this may not be the case.

The group said the myth of urine being the best immediate way to treat a jellyfish sting is just that — a myth. It advises anyone who has been stung by a jellyfish to use a much simpler method of combating the painful stings.

“A sting from a jellyfish can be extremely painful, but trying to treat it with urine isn’t going to make your day any better,” Joe Mulligan, the British Red Cross’s head of first aid, told British news sources. “Urine just doesn’t have the right chemical make-up to solve the problem.”

“If people have been stung, they need to get out of the water to avoid getting stung again. Once out, slowly pouring seawater over the sting will help ease the pain,” Mulligan told the Daily Mail. “Doing the same thing with vinegar can be even more effective as the acid helps neutralize the jellyfish sting. But unless you’re near a chip shop, seawater will probably be easier to find.”

The British Red Cross issued the advice after conservationists claimed that jellyfish numbers are on the rise off the British coast, posing greater risk of stings to beachgoers.

Just last month, closure of the Torness nuclear power plant in Scotland occurred after numerous moon jellyfish clogged water intake cooling systems along the coast.

The Marine Conservation Society is asking beachgoers to take part in its crowd-sourced survey of jellyfish numbers when they go to the beach this upcoming weekend to learn more about the marine creature.

Jellyfish are the staple diet of leatherback sea turtles, which migrate to the British waters to feed on the jellyfish blooms. By studying distribution of jellyfish along with environmental factors such as sea temperature, plankton production and current flow, scientists hope to understand what influences the seasonal migration of jellyfish and leatherbacks to British waters.

Those that do get brave enough to get close to the jellyfish are urged to “look but not touch.” Although most species of jellyfish have only a mild sting, some, like the lion’s mane have a strong – but not fatal – sting.

Although described by some as an “old wives’ tale,” the misbelief that urinating on a jellyfish sting will lessen pain became more widespread after it was featured on an episode of TV sitcom Friends. 

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