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Friday 28 July 2017

Jellyfish sting 'cure' all washed up

The Portuguese man o’ war
The Portuguese man o’ war
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

The traditional first-aid treatment for jellyfish stings is all washed up and could actually cause more harm than good, a ground-breaking new study from NUI Galway reveals.

A team of scientists from the School of Zoology has found that the traditional cure to take the sting out of encounters with Portuguese man o' war jellyfish doesn't work. The jury is still out on whether the same applies to Lion's mane jellyfish, pending more research.

Following clinical trials over the past decade, the team found rinsing the affected area with seawater and applying ice actually causes more pain because the salt water triggers more of the venom-containing capsules to fire, while ice re-activates the venom and slows healing. The same goes for dousing the area with urine - a technique popularised by an episode of 'Friends' in which Chandler urinates over Monica at the beach to douse the nettle-like sting from a jellyfish.

Zoology professor and head of the Jellyfish Advisory Group Dr Tom Doyle is now urging the medical community to discontinue the old treatment technique in favour of a simple new one in which vinegar applied to the sting will immediately deactivate the venom-firing capsules. Applying water as hot as the person can stand afterwards will also help, he said.

Irish Independent

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