Cochrane Summaries

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Treatment for jellyfish stings

Li L, McGee RG, Isbister G, Webster AC
Published Online: 
9 December 2013

Jellyfish stings are common in temperate coastal regions around the world. Specialised stinging cells on the jellyfish called nematocysts produce the sting. The stings of different jellyfish species produce different symptoms of varying severity. Milder symptoms include pain and skin reactions such as redness and itching at the site of the sting.

This review identified seven trials on the treatment of jellyfish stings primarily involving two jellyfish species—Physalia (Bluebottle) and Carybdea alata (Hawaiian box) jellyfish—as well as two trials that are in progress. Many different types of treatments were tested in these trials. Large variation was observed between the duration of treatment among trials. Evidence of limited quality from a single study suggested that hot water immersion relieved pain. This evidence may not apply to other species of jellyfish because of large variability in the effects of stings. Further research should be conducted to help practitioners better understand the most effective treatments for jellyfish stings.