Stung by a jellyfish? Heat it.

Written by on May 6, 2016 in Jellyfish, Other News

Did you know that jellyfish kill more people every year than sharks? Jellyfish stings are a problem and with blooms popping up more frequently, researching treatments has become more and more important for public safety.


Jellyfish. Photo credit NOAA.

So how do you treat a jellyfish sting? Hopefully by now we all know that Friends was wrong. The ammonia in urine won’t make your jellyfish sting feel better. Don’t do it! New research from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa shows that hot packs and hot-water immersion after treatment is the way to go.

“Authoritative web articles are constantly bombarding the public with unvalidated and frankly bad advice for how to treat jelly stings,” Angel Yanagihara, assistant research professor at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center and John A. Burns School of Medicine and senior author of the paper, explained in a news release. “In Hawaiʻi, and around the world, we have seen that first responders and public health decision makers rely on non-evidence-based claims found on websites. It’s not too strong to point out that in some cases, ignorance can cost lives.”

“The goal of my laboratory’s efforts is to contribute to evidence-based best clinical practices for jellyfish stings,” Yanagihara said.

The researchers reviewed more than 2,000 articles published in major scientific journals to examine the effects of temperature-based treatment and compared the use of cold or heat.

“People think ice will help because jelly stings burn and ice is cold,” said lead author Christie Wilcox. “And if you Google it, many sites — even those considered reputable — will tell you to put ice on a sting to dull the pain. But research to date has shown that all marine venoms are highly heat sensitive, thus hot water or hot packs should be more effective than cold packs or ice.”

Components of the venom are inactivated at temperatures of about 45 degrees Celsius (113°F), so heat is clearly the way to go. The researchers hope this information will help streamline first-aid responses.

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Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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  1. John says:

    That was a great piece of info. There are so much misconception about how to treat jellyfish stings. I did not know about the hot water treatment. Thank you for let me know.