4 Ways to Protect Yourself From Jellyfish Stings

May 7th 2016

Nothing ruins a day at the beach quite like a painful jellyfish sting, but you can avoid most of them by taking some precautions. Always check local conditions before swimming, and wear protective gear when appropriate.

Pay Attention Before Swimming

Jellyfish often stay away from the coast, and ones that do make it in are usually spread out and low risk. However, some weather and tidal conditions can cause large numbers of the creatures to swarm beaches. Authorities typically put out warning signs in high-risk conditions, including flags with images of jellyfish on them. Check the local information for your beach before heading into the water.

Avoid Washed-Up Jellyfish

Jellyfish often wind up washed onto the beach, where they eventually die. This can be a common sight in some areas. Avoid these washed-up jellyfish, even if they appear to be dead. Their tentacles can still sting. If you have children, watch them particularly closely; they may be curious and try to touch or play with the jellyfish.

Wear Protective Clothing

Jellyfish typically only pose a threat to bare skin, which means that protective clothing can prevent most stings. Although people who regularly swim may want to buy a specially made suit, occasional swimmers can protect themselves with pantyhose and long-sleeved T-shirts. These lightweight and inexpensive options may look a little silly, but they are effective. Most jellyfish stingers are too short to penetrate even the thin layer of cloth, and those that do have longer stingers are confused by the cloth and do not realize that there is a person under it.

Apply Protective Lotion

Another safe and effective way to avoid jellyfish is to use a lotion designed to repel and protect against them. This type of lotion is based on the secretions of clownfish and other species that make them immune to jellyfish stings. The lotion provides a slippery outer layer that disguises your skin. When a jellyfish touches that layer, it does not realize it is touching skin, so it lets go without stinging. It also disrupts the sensor cell's ability to communicate, so the jellyfish does not realize it is touching you. If it does sting anyway, the lotions reduce the amount of pressure in the stinging cells and help absorb some of the venom. This lotion is widely available and FDA-approved, but do not forget to reapply it according to instructions.


Although most people may think of sharks and rip currents when they think of ocean dangers, those who frequent coastal swimming areas know that jellyfish are often a hidden danger. While their stings are usually simply painful, serious stings can cause confusion, dizziness and vomiting, which can be dangerous in the water. Protecting yourself against jellyfish is fairly easy.

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