Jelly Fish Stings

JamieJamie Member
edited May 2012 in General Discussion
I got 3 really bad jelly stings last week. All are about 8 to 12 inches long on my arm, chest and neck. They all have stopped hurting but it looks like they may scar. Does anyone have any remedies for preventing scaring or should I just consider them a wonderful reminder of a great swim? Thanks


  • jcmalickjcmalick Wilmington, DEMember
    Consider them an awesome reminder! I still have a few blue bottle stings from swimming in the Indian Ocean in South Africa over a month ago and they are a reminder of how amazing that trip and the swims/people that it involved! Battle Scars!
  • GarbageBargeGarbageBarge NY (Hudson Valley)Guest
    When I got zapped by a man o' war in Waikiki, the lifeguard gave me some meat tenderizer to put on it. Not sure if that would do anything days later, but it made the sting go away almost immediately and no scars. If you scar, consider it an OW tat.
  • jcmalickjcmalick Wilmington, DEMember
    I used black vinegar right after the sting and it's pretty much gone but the trace is still there.
  • IronMikeIronMike Arlington, VACharter Member
    What's black vinegar?

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • jcmalickjcmalick Wilmington, DEMember
    edited May 2012
    I guess dark vinegar? That's what I asked for at my hotel in PE, South Africa...I think any kind of vinegar would work to suck out the venom and perhaps apple would smell the best!

    Here's a blurb from wikipedia:
    Chinese black vinegar is an aged product made from rice, wheat, millet, sorghum, or a combination thereof. It has an inky black color and a complex, malty flavor. There is no fixed recipe, so some Chinese black vinegars may contain added sugar, spices, or caramel color. The most popular variety, Zhenjiang vinegar (鎮江香醋), originated in the city of Zhenjiang, in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, China[9] and also is produced in Tianjin and Hong Kong.

    Here's more info too:
    Vinegar (3–10% aqueous acetic acid) is a common remedy to help with box jellyfish stings,[61][62] but not the stings of the Portuguese Man o' War (which is not a true jellyfish, but a colony)

    Beyond initial first aid, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can control skin irritation (pruritus).[66] For removal of venom in the skin, a paste of baking soda and water can be applied with a cloth covering on the sting.[citation needed] In some cases it is necessary to reapply paste every 15–20 minutes. Ice or fresh water should not be applied to the sting, as this may help the nematocysts to continue to release toxin.[67][68]

    Rubbing wounds, or using alcohol, spirits, ammonia, or urine may have strongly negative effects as these can encourage the release of venom.[65]

    Jellies 101! :o)
  • bobswimsbobswims OregonCharter Member
    Strange comment on no water or ice. Years ago I was struck across the face on Kauai while body surfing 100 yards offshore. I felt something across my face and I instinctually started swimming to shore. My face started to hurt and I was grateful to have fins on. By the time I hit the beach my face was on fire. The condo we were staying at was right there so i grabbed a bag of ice and took a Benadryl. 15 minutes later it had calmed down and was nearly completely gone within 30 minutes. No scarring.
  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
    A suggestion, especially for "newbies": Get your doctor to prescribe an Epipen and take it with you to races. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to jellyfish stings and the Epipen could save your life if so. After you have been stung a few times and are sure you aren't allergic, you can skip it, but still keep a few benadryl handy on the boat.


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • JamieJamie Member
    Thanks all. I appreciate the input and suggestions. I am definitely going to look into the epipen as I will be doing a big swim in the Sea of Cortez in June and the Molokai Channel in December. Thanks..
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    edited May 2012
    By the way @Jamie, congrats on last week's Gibraltar swim. It must have been great fun with the three of you there swimming. How did it go?

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    @jcmalick. A few of us were at a jellyfish presentation by the European Ecojel project a couple of months ago. The most interesting thing (amongst a few) was that vinegar, which so many of us in Ireland and the UK at least use for stings, is actually worthless. The senior researcher, Dr Tom Doyle, said it's arisen because it is useful for one species in Australia (Box, I think), and hence seems to have spread everywhere.

    But for Pelugia Noctiluia, (Purple Stingers) Compass, Lion's Mane and Portugese Man O War, it does nothing to the toxin or the unfired stingers. The other usual techniques are valid: sea water (duh), scrape the affected area to removed unfired stingers or use a towel. I seem to recall that he said the evidence on the Safe Sea product isn't conclusive, it does nothing for some people.

  • jcmalickjcmalick Wilmington, DEMember
    Excellent...I used vinegar per a S. African friend's advice last month after a swim in the Indian Ocean and prior to using it, I felt chills throughout my body from the venom. Afterwards, it subdued/numbed the feeling and just left a tattoo afterwards. Perhaps the Box Jelly and Blue Bottles should be on the list?
  • ...a week and a half ago on a three-team Catalina relay many of the swimmers were stung by "sea lice" jelly fish. I ended up having a bit of a reaction for a few days afterward that was calmed by Benedryl and Hydrocortisone.

    I found this product online, that is a lotion that claims to prevent the jellyfish sting (also has sunscreen properties, how convenient!).

    I am planning on using this on my next swim where I anticipate these.

    A few swimmer friends on an upcoming relay were wondering if it was channel legal.
    I think it is and would fall under "...a swimmer is permitted to grease the body". It is like a specialized grease, provides no flotation or warmth...
    Does anyone disagree with that?

  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    When I lifeguarded on the New Jersey shore throughout college, we kept small containers of meat tenderizer to apply to jellyfish stings to take the sting out. After applying, we'd advise people to take Benadryl to suppress the histimine response and take a shower in cool, fresh water. Some people also found rinsing with vinegar to be effective. And of course the urine trick was always rumored to be a good solution, though I can't say I have any personal expereince with that.

    Stop me if you've heard this one... A grasshopper walks into a bar...

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member

    Got stung by a Portuguese Man-o-War yesterday for the first time (kayaking, not swimming) and wow, those things are no joke. Full props to anyone who survives a swim with multiple encounters with those nastiest. - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    I've been more or less lucky so far although sea lice are the pits--as I learned in 2010 and a couple times after that. Safe Sea is good--but don't forget to apply it UNDER your swimsuit, not just to exposed skin.

Sign In or Register to comment.