Jellyfish Stings

Our topic for August – Jellyfish Stings

July and August is the peak season for jellyfish in Ireland.

There are plenty of myths attached about how to treat jellyfish stings. They reach from applying cold or hot water to urine onto the affected area.

Here you will find the most up to date First Aid advice for jellyfish stings in Irish waters.

Jellyfish are usually found near the surface of the water during times of diminished light, floating in the water column, or after washing up on the beach. Jellyfish stings are generally accidental – from swimming or wading into a jellyfish or carelessly handling them.

Jellyfish Sting Symptoms

  • Symptoms include an intense, stinging pain, itching, rash, and raised welts.
  • The progressive effects of a jellyfish sting may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, lymph node swelling, abdominal pain, numbness/tingling, and muscle spasms.
  • Severe reactions can cause difficulty breathing, coma, and death.
  • A sting from a box jellyfish or other venomous types of jellyfish can cause death in minutes.

When to Seek Medical Care

Seek immediate medical treatment if the person stung has:

  • Difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, chest pain, or intense pain at the site of the sting.
  • If the person has been stung in the mouth and are having voice changes, difficulty swallowing, or swelling of the tongue or lips.
  • If the sting happened to someone who is very young or old.
  • If the sting involves a large area of the body, the face, or genitals.

First Aid Guidelines

These guidelines were drawn up by the Jellyfish Action Group of Ireland and Wales (which includes experts form Beaumont Poison Centre, Pre-hospital Emergency Care experts, hospital A&E consultants, local GPs, and water safety officers) and are only to be applied in Irish and Welsh waters.

  • Ensure you don’t get stung yourself when aiding others.
  • Remove any attached tentacles with a gloved hand, stick, or towel (none of these available use the tips of your fingers)
  • Do not rub the affected area (this may result in further venom release)
  • Rinse the affected area with sea-water (do not use fresh water, vinegar, alcohol or urine)
  • Apply a ‘dry cold pack’ to the area (i.e. place a cold pack or ice inside a plastic bag and then wrap this package in a t-shirt or other piece of cloth)
  • Seek medical attention if there is anything other than minor discomfort
  • If the patient is suffering from swelling, breathing difficulties, palpitation or chest tightness then transfer to the nearest emergency department urgently

As harmless and beautiful those creatures might appear you must never underestimate the potential threat they can cause.

For more information please visit You will find plenty of information about jellyfish in Ireland.

During our research for this article we came across this newspaper clip which shows you the extent of jellyfish in our waters and the likelyhood of an ever increasing amount of those marine species –

If you would like to like to read about our range of First Aid Courses in Dublin please click here.