Homemade Options to Take the Ouch Out of Jellyfish Stings
Prevention is always better than a cure, so avoid going in areas known to be home to many jellyfish. If you get stung, scrape and clean the affected area as soon as possible to neutralize the toxins, and follow up with home treatment for the pain and swelling. If there is a risk of high toxicity, or the stings are in a dangerous place such as the face or groin, seek medical advice immediately.
Remove Physical Traces
Take any lingering pieces of jellyfish off the affected area as soon as possible. Use the tentacles to try to identify the type of jellyfish if appropriate, but do not to let them touch any more bare skin. Scraping the area with the edge of a credit card or ID card can help remove small particles of stinger, but do not rinse the area with water or rub it, as this often causes more poisons to enter your skin as stingers are activated.
If you feel up to it, use a disposable razor to shave the area to remove any remaining stings. Throw the razor away immediately after use, and do not apply much pressure during shaving to avoid further venom being spread.
Pick a Method
Depending on the type of jellyfish, you need an alkali or acid solution. Try to find out what types of jellyfish frequent the area you are visiting before you go in the sea in case of such an emergency, and have the appropriate substance available in case of need. A paste of baking soda and seawater makes a good alkaline option, while vinegar is an excellent choice for an acid. If you are unsure, apply a little of each in separate test areas and see which one reduces the pain. Urine, despite popular myth, is not helpful in this regard.
Hot showers of up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit can help to relieve the pain of jellyfish stings, but unless all particles of the tentacles are removed, there is still the risk of activating further venom with the water if it becomes cool. Ice packs to numb the area also help, and these also reduce localized swelling.
Oral pain relief is another option, and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are a good choice to help reduce swelling. Topical treatments such as calamine lotion and lidocaine help numb and soothe the area, and topical or oral antihistamines control any minor allergic reactions.
Jellyfish stings are always painful and unpleasant. Reducing pain and swelling are the goals of treatment in most cases, and homemade remedies can help. However, a few types of jellyfish such as the box and Irukandji jellyfish produce even more toxins than most, and these can be dangerous. If you are in a region where these types of jellyfish sometimes appear and are unsure which type of jellyfish sting you received, check with a medical professional to ensure your safety.