I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
October 4, 2018
As a family, we are ocean-obsessed. We take every opportunity we can to go to the beach and while we’re there, we waste no time on the sand — Instead, we’re in the ocean as much as possible. We boogie board if the waves are up, snorkel if it’s clear, play ocean games, look for shells and sea creatures, and, now that I have a teen and a tween, just ‘chill’ on rafts in the water.
But that’s not all we do. We also get stung by jellyfish. Like, a lot.
Typically, this is not a big deal now that my kids are used to it. Jellyfish tentacles are often floating in the surf and brushing against one is a momentary sting that quickly goes away. My kids know this now and ignore it after voicing a complaint or two. It is what it is. But the last time we went to the beach, I had an altogether different experience.
We had noticed a number of jellyfish in the ocean on our first beach day, but since the water was clear, we kept a sharp eye out and did our best to avoid them. That seemed to work until I rode a wave on my boogie board and felt a searing pain in my thigh. It was like a tentacle sting times a hundred, and I knew instantly I’d just had a full-on jellyfish encounter, which had delivered the kind of sting that makes people leave the ocean and never get back in it, ever again.
I staggered over to our beach umbrella and dropped into a chair underneath it, searching for my phone so that I could quickly look up what to do. Although I was trying to stay calm for my kids’ sake, it felt like my leg was on fire. “I think I’m supposed to put toothpaste on it,” I muttered to my husband as I typed in my Google search box.
“No. It’s meat tenderizer,” he countered. “Or urine.” I looked up at him and he grinned.
“No,” I said. “NO.”
On the Mayo Clinic site, I found a much more acceptable remedy. The site advised me to rinse the sting in vinegar, pluck out any visible tentacles with tweezers (I had no tentacles embedded in my skin, thank God!), and then soak the area in hot water for 20-45 minutes. I didn’t have vinegar, but I did have a hot tub conveniently located beside the indoor pool in our high-rise. I wrapped a towel around my waist and headed for the building.
There, I soaked my leg for the recommended 20 minutes- That was all I could take since the hot tub was, well, hot. While the hot water immediately lessened the pain, it still hurt for the first five minutes. After that, the pain slowly subsided. By the time I got out, I was good to go. SUCCESS.
Welts had risen on my skin and another site informed me that I could treat that with an antihistamine. I happened to have some Benadryl, so I took one. And that was that.
The Mayo Clinic states these jellyfish sting remedies are unhelpful or unproved:
Fortunately, the REAL remedy is actually easier than any of these things. If you don’t have a hot tub handy, a bathtub or even a shower will also work just fine. And when you’re on vacation, what are the chances that you have meat tenderizer handy, anyway? As for urine… *shudder* Let’s not speak of it again.
The next day, my leg still looked pretty bad…
But the swelling had gone down and it felt fine, and that’s what mattered most to me. By then, the jellyfish herd (?) pod (?) clutch (?) had moved on and we were able to swim in peace.
I’m sharing what I did so that you can keep it in the back of your mind on your family beach trips. This remedy is easy, medically approved, and, best of all, it works. Of course, if the jellyfish victim appears to be having an allergic reaction to the sting, you need to see a doctor right away, but if it’s a run-of-the-mill sting like mine, this should do the trick.