Have you ever seen jellyfish in a public aquarium or even in those awesome tanks in someone’s home? They’re beautiful…and mesmerizing. Unfortunately, you probably don’t feel the same way when you are surrounded by them in the water during your summer beach vacations.

Think you won’t see jellyfish or have to deal with a sting on your vacation? Think again. They may just show up in places and ways you didn’t even consider.

Here are nine facts and myths that people have about jellyfish.


#1: MYTH – Jellyfish only appear in the ocean.

Jellyfish prefer seawater, but can appear in any lake, river or stream that has a connection to the ocean. Some do also live in fresh water.

#2: MYTH – Jellyfish on the beach are dead.

Not necessarily. Jellyfish do need water to breathe, but they become still on the beach and look like they are dead. They might not be, especially if they are sitting in little pools of water. So, proceed with caution and definitely don’t step on them.

#3: FACT – If you see one jellyfish, there are sure to be more.

Jellyfish like to live in groups and despise their territory being “invaded.” If you swim upon a group, get away and out fast.

#4: MYTH – Jellyfish aren’t deadly.

They can be depending on how a person reacts to a sting and where you are vacationing when you get stung. Australia has some of the most deadly jellyfish.

#5: MYTH – Rinse the jellyfish sting area with warm water.

According to WebMD, fresh water will cause the “nematocysts”–or the “tiny harpoons” that sting you–to continue to release their toxin.

WebMD also states that you should not rub the area, apply ice, or rinse with hot water.

#6: FACT – Pour vinegar on the sting area.

The vinegar stops the toxins from being released. If you’re at a beach that sells beach fries, you’re probably in luck because many stock vinegar to go on the fries. WebMD recommends soaking the sting area in vinegar for 15 to 30 minutes.

#7: MYTH – Don’t treat the area with anything other than vinegar.

WebMD recommends the following treatment:

“Apply shaving cream or a paste of baking soda to the area. Shave the area with a razor or credit card to remove any adherent nematocysts. Then reapply vinegar or alcohol. The shaving cream or paste prevents nematocysts that have not been activated from releasing their toxin during removal with the razor.”

#8: MYTH – If vinegar isn’t available, then pee on the stung area to treat it.

Who can forget that Friends episode where Joey urinates on Monica’s jellyfish sting? Well, it’s probably not a true treatment.

Urine contains a high amount of water, so urinating on a sting may cause the nematocysts to release more toxins. If vinegar isn’t available, rinse the sting in sea water (not fresh water) or isopropyl alcohol until you can get treatment.

#9: FACT – You can get stung by the nematocysts left in someone else.

Jellyfish may leave behind some of their tentacles covered with those toxic nematocysts. While treating someone else, you may get “stung” from the nematocysts in someone’s skin. Wear gloves if you have them.

If you’re vacationing where you will be spending time in the water, you might want to consider packing your first aid kit with jellyfish treatments–vinegar, tweezers, bandages and baking soda. There are even “after jellyfish sting” pain relief products available.

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