Wednesday 13 November 2019

'Friends' a wee bit liberal with the truth - peeing on a jellyfish sting won't help

Mel B and Bear Grylls
Mel B and Bear Grylls
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

It may have worked for Monica and Chandler in hit sitcom 'Friends', but a leading marine ecologist is warning people not to urinate on themselves in the event of a jellyfish sting.

In fact, Dr Tom Doyle, lecturer in zoology at NUI Galway, told the Irish Independent that urine could make a jellyfish injury much worse.

"I'm not sure how this misconception came about, but that 'Friends' episode definitely didn't help," Dr Doyle said.

"I don't know anyone who has actually tried this method, but I can confidently say that it doesn't work."

Dr Doyle also said an episode of 'Running Wild with Bear Grylls' also created misconceptions about treatment for jellyfish stings.

"Bear Grylls also helped to spread this myth when he got one of the Spice Girls to pee on him when he got stung by a jellyfish.

"This was just done for TV and drama and didn't actually make things better," he said.

New research from NUI Galway and the University of Hawaii has identified the best way to treat a sting from the lion's mane jellyfish - vinegar and hot water.

Dr Doyle added that the lion's mane is the most problematic jellyfish in Ireland and the UK, with hundreds of bathers being badly stung each year.

With over 1,000 tentacles that can stretch up to four or five metres in length, a bad sting from a lion's mane jellyfish can cause severe local reactions and extreme pain.

"What most people don't understand is that these jellyfish - the lion's mane, the Portuguese man o' war and the box jellyfish - are as different from each other as a dog and a snake.

"Therefore when developing first aid treatment for a jellyfish sting it is very important to test different treatments on these very different types of jellyfish.

"Now that we have shown that vinegar and hot water work on these three jellyfish species, it will be much easier to standardise and simplify first aid for jellyfish stings where many different types of jellyfish occur."

The research, published in the international journal 'Toxins', shows that the best first aid for a lion's mane sting is to rinse with vinegar to remove tentacles, and then immerse in 45C hot water (or apply a heat pack) for 40 minutes.

The marine ecologist added that it is important to remember that most jellyfish stings in Ireland and the UK are no worse than a nettle sting.

Irish Independent

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