Friday 15 November 2019

Traditional treatments for jellyfish stings could 'cause more harm than good' as new cure revealed

Lion's Mane jellyfish have been spotted in the waters around Sandycove and other areas along the coast in south Dublin.
Lion's Mane jellyfish have been spotted in the waters around Sandycove and other areas along the coast in south Dublin.

Cillian Sherlock

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

New research suggests that we need only to look for vinegar and hot water in the event of such a sting in Ireland.

The lion’s mane jellyfish is the most problematic jellyfish in Ireland and the UK with 100s of bathers being badly stung each year, according to new research from NUI Galway and the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.

The nuisance lion’s mane jellyfish has over 1,000 tentacles that can stretch up to a whopping five metres before stinging any unsuspecting beach-goer.

A lion’s mane sting can cause severe local reactions and extreme pain but relief can come from rinsing the sting in vinegar before immersing the affected body part in 45°C hot water or applying a heat pack, according to international journal Toxins.

The same easy remedy was found in the NUI Galway and University of Hawaii studies on Portugese man o’ war and box jellyfish.

According to the study, previous best practice involved using sea water and cold packs but this only induced significant increase in venom delivery.

While most jellyfish stings in Ireland are no worse than a nettle sting, it is hoped that this research will help standardise and simplify first aid methods for treating jellyfish stings.

“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,” according to Dr Tom Doyle, Lecturer in Zoology from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway.

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