How to treat a jellyfish sting

Pack the chilly bin, grab the boogie board, slop on sunscreen and head off to the beach for a great day out – but beware of jellyfish lurking in the water and up on the beach!

Jellyfish are beautiful, almost hypnotic creatures … when viewed from out of harm’s way! Katey Rawstron, Assistant Aquarist at Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s in Auckland, passed on these tips about what to do if you are unfortunately stung by a jellyfish.

Busting the jellyfish myths

  • Jellyfish aren’t only found in the ocean – they can appear in lakes, rivers or streams that are connected to the oceans.
  • Jellyfish washed up to shore aren’t dead – always proceed with caution and do not touch them!
  • Jellyfish aren’t deadly – however the way you react to a sting can impact this.
  • You should NOT urinate on the sting area – despite what popular culture has demonstrated, urinating on a sting may cause the nematocysts to release more toxins.
  • You should NOT rinse a jellyfish sting with warm water – your best approach is to pour hot water (but not scalding).
  • Bluebottles are not a true jellyfish – contrary to popular belief, bluebottles are actually a colony of thousands of tiny hydroid animals.

What to do if you are stung by a jellyfish

  1. If you are at the beach when you encounter a jellyfish, immediately seek assistance from a First Aid officer or lifeguard.
  2. Treat the sting by rinsing the area with hot water (but not scalding) to help lessen pain.
  3. Carefully pluck any visible tentacles with tweezers. We recommend wearing gloves in the process as the tentacles can easily reattach themselves!
  4. If pain persists, be sure to consult a healthcare professional.

What NOT to do

  • Scrape out stingers
  • Apply ice or ice packs to a sting
  • Rinse with seawater
  • Rinse with urine
  • Rinse with fresh water
  • Apply alcohol, ethanol or ammonia
  • Rub the sting
  • Apply pressure bandages


Information and images kindly provided by Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium. Visit their website for visitor information.

Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium is just one of many attractions included in the Merlin Annual Pass, giving you discounts at visitor attractions in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

One Comment

  1. kymmage 03/11/2017 at 7:18 pm

    I didn’t know you shouldn’t wee in a sting! Not that I have ever had to.

Leave A Comment