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How to Avoid and Treat Jellyfish Stings

Painful Summer Hazard: Jellyfish Stings

If you've been to a beach, you understand this Summer health hazard: jellyfish. These critters come in all shapes and sizes, and are found in every part of every ocean, from close to the surface to deep sea waters.

Why does a sting hurt so much? A jellyfish sting comes from its tentacles, which carry venom — though only certain kinds of jellyfish will cause a reaction in humans. Tiny stinging structures called nematocysts cause the sting. When you come in contact with a jellyfish tentacle, millions of nematocysts fill with pressure until they burst, releasing a lance that pierces the victim's skin, followed by the venom. Depending on the type of jellyfish, the sting can feel like a mild prick to extreme pain. And even beached jellyfish can sting, so if you see one washed up on the beach, stay away.

To find out how to avoid and treat stings (and the truth or fiction behind a popular remedy), keep reading.

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How to avoid a sting: The only way to avoid a sting is to avoid the jellyfish altogether. Since they frequent all different types of open water, it's nearly impossible to avoid them completely, but if you see one, move away; where there is one jellyfish, there are likely more. Late Summer can be prime jellyfish season since the water is warmer and more inviting for jellyfish near the shoreline.

How to treat a sting: If you're stung in salt water, one of the worst (and most painful) things you can do is douse the area with fresh water. A change in pH levels can cause more venom to be released. The best solution for relief after a sting is actually vinegar because of its acidity level.

So, does urine really work? Sadly (or not-so-sadly, depending how you feel about the remedy), no, the suggestion that urine will work on a sting is just an old wives' tale. It's true that some people have reported relief, but there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims.

Have you ever been stung? Tell us how you treated your sting in the comments section below.

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