Quick, what’s the first thing you think of when it comes to jellyfish stings? If you answered “pee on it,” you’re definitely not alone.
Whether or not peeing on a jellyfish sting works, the idea has become fairly firmly lodged in our consciousness as a valid and even desirable remedy — which is kind of silly, because aside from fires, what other problems in life do we solve by peeing on them?
Peeing on jellyfish stings certainly got a boost from an episode of the widely-watched sitcom Friends, when the characters experienced a jellyfish sting in Montauk, and in desperation, tried the pee trick. Much hilarity ensued, and Joey vowed to pee on any of his friends should the issue arise again.
But does peeing on a jellyfish sting really work, or is it an old wives tale? Surely if someone is actually willing to submit to the indignity of being urinated upon, there’s gotta be some benefit, right?
Actually, probably not. Scientists, in what was probably the funnest research ever — at least for dudes — have examined the efficacy of peeing on a jellyfish sting and determined that in most case, not only does urine not help the situation, but it can actually make the stinging worse.
Researchers looked at 19 previous studies, determining that hot water and lidocaine trump remedies like pee and vinegar, which proliferate on the internet. In a press release, lead author Dr. Nicholas Ward of the University of California San Diego explained:
“Some of the remedies promoted by word of mouth and online, such as vinegar, actually make the pain worse with certain species of jellyfish. Current evidence suggests hot water and topical lidocaine, which is available at local pharmacies, may be more universally beneficial in treating pain from a jellyfish sting.”
“Topical lidocaine, a local anesthetic, may also inactivate the stinging cells of the jellyfish, preventing further envenomation.”
The Red Cross recommends, rather than peeing on a jellyfish sting, that you use a solution of water and baking soda to neutralize the venom.