This is the best way to treat a jellyfish sting, according to doctors

Updated: Jul. 25, 2019 at 4:10 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - If you’ve been in the ocean this summer, chances are you’ve at least seen one or two jellyfish in the water.

While there are plenty of myths out there on how to treat jellyfish stings, we checked with the experts to learn what you really should do if you get stung.

According to Novant Health’s Dr. Chad Weston, acting fast is important if you’re stung.

The first order of business is to get the creature’s tentacles off quick

When jellyfish sting, they leave behind small nematocysts full of venom that can continue to sting you even after they’ve detached from the jelly. You might have heard that you can use sand to scrub the stinging tentacles off, but Dr. Weston says a plastic card like an ID or credit card is your best bet.

Don’t pee on it

Though this method is the one you hear the most about, professionals say its not exactly the most sanitary way of treating a sting. The thought is correct, as acidic liquids can neutralize the jellyfish’s venom, but cleaning the sting with vinegar is the best option.

Hot water is best to stop the burning

Hot water from the faucet will ease your pain better than ice! Doctors say water 110 degrees or hotter will help.

Not all jellyfish are the same

Our oceans are home to several different jelly species. One common one is the cannonball jellyfish, or the cabbage head jellyfish. They typically have a brown or rusty color on the rim and resemble a round mushroom. These super common jellyfish are harmless to humans.

You do, however need to be on the lookout for Portuguese Man of Wars, box jellies and Atlantic sea nettles. Some of these jellyfish have tentacles that can reach more than 49 feet from the main body- you might not be able to even see what kind of animal stung you.

Check for purple flags

One easy thing to look for when you head to the beach is what kind of flags officials are flying. Some flags indicate the presence of dangerous currents, while purple flags are typically flown to warn people dangerous marine life, like jellyfish, have been spotted.

Doctors say jellyfish stings are more uncomfortable than they are dangerous. Symptoms will generally go away on their own, but some people can have allergic reactions and small children are more at risk to experience complications.

You should seek help if you or your child are lightheaded or having trouble breathing.

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