UMEM Educational Pearls

No one treatment has demonstrated consistency of pain relief from jellyfish stings over all species; conversely, a treatment for one species may worsen an envenomation from another.

Deionized water, seawater, meat tenderizer, and urea treatment do not appear to produce any improvement in pain sensation.

Ammonia, acetic acid, and ethanol may cause an increased stinging sensation, and in most species vinegar may cause nematocyst discharge.

Application of topical lidocaine reduced the local sensation of pain (10% and 15% produced immediate pain relief), and hot water results in pain relief in the majority of patients tested.


Ward NT, Darracq MA, Tomasewski C, Clark RF. Evidence-Based Treatment of Jellyfish Stings in North America and Hawaii. Article published online, Annals of Emergency Medicine June 8, 2012.