I know what you’re thinking. I saw that episode of Friends too, and I’m NOT going there! Since the summer months mean lots of vacations and beach time, you should have a few options to treat a jellyfish sting not offered by Joey and Chandler. And the solutions, of course, are natural.
If you’re going to be swimming in the same location as the jellyfish, you might want to make sure to take a bottle of vinegar to the beach. Pouring it on the sting for a good 30 seconds can neutralize the pain from many varieties of jellyfish. Afterwards, you can pull off those nasty little tentacles. But don’t remove them until after you’ve neutralized the tentacles with vinegar – at least not with your bare hands. You may just get yourself stung again. You can scrape them with the edge of a shell or a credit card if you’re still wary.
You can also use a mixture of water and baking soda, 50/50, to pour on the sting. If you’re just fresh out of vinegar and there’s no baking soda sitting around the beach, salt water from the ocean will do. Immersing the sting in hot water can help, as can cold water, but hot seems to be more effective.
If you or someone you’re with has been stung by a jellyfish, you need to seek medical attention right away if these signs of a rare allergic reaction are present: difficulty breathing, nausea, swelling around the mouth and/or the stung limb, wheezing, chest pain, stomach cramps, or dizziness.
Call the National Marine and Freshwater Envenomation Hotline if you are in any doubt: 1-888/232-8635. A great phone number for the beach bag – right next to the vinegar bottle. So there, Joey and Chandler, don’t you feel foolish? Coulda been a lot easier. (By the way, their solution may actually make the sting worse, so no need to try it!)