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May 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 42, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Effective Product to Stop Dangerous Jellyfish Stings

from the May, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Box jellyfish are among the deadliest creatures on Earth and annually are responsible for more deaths -- including snorkelers and an occasional scuba diver -- than shark attacks. But just how to treat them -- hot water, ice, lidocaine, urine, seawater -- has been vigorously debated. Until now.

Angel Yanagihara, an assistant research professor at the University of Hawaii's Manoa Pacific Biosciences Research Center, led a team testing various treatments, using "live, stinging tentacles, and live human red blood cells that allowed us to pit first-aid measures against one another." They found that tried-and-true measures, hot water (107°-112°F) immersion, and to some extent, vinegar, really do work on Hawaiian box jellyfish stings.

Urinating on a jellyfish sting doesn't work, because the water needs to be warmer than body temperature - specifically about 113° F. Marine venom components are inactivated at temperatures between 104 and 122° F.

However, the study shows that a new over-the-counter product, Sting No More™, inhibits the venom directly, and works faster and better than hot water. Folk remedies, such as urine (not hot enough), seawater and ice offered little, if any, benefit. However, vinegar can prevent further discharge of stinging cells, but not treat the sting.

While the current study only tested measures using the Hawaiian box jelly, hot water is the go-to treatment for other jelly stings. However, if you're diving with jellies, it's a good idea to have StingNoMore on hand (purchase online at

Toxins 2016, 8(1), 19; doi:10.3390/toxins8010019 Because StingNoMore was developed by Yanagihara with Department of Defense funding, the potential conflict of interest in this study was managed by the University of Hawaii.

- Ben Davison

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