Jellyfish Stings - Safety and Treatment

December 15, 2022

It is Jellyfish season and they are out in record numbers on the Georgia and South Carolina beaches! Recent reports indicate as many as 2300 stings have already been reported on Hilton Head Island alone and July has barely begun. That doesn't even include the reports from Savannah's own Tybee Island, GA. Jellyfish stings can range from annoying to severely painful to life threatening. There are a variety of jellyfish species and some cause more pain and harm than others. It’s important to seek proper care following a sting as some stings can cause a lot of problems and secondary immune reactions. The timeline for treatment can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. It's important to know what to do if you are stung.

What NOT To Do When You are Stung By A Jellyfish

There are a couple of things that you should NOT do. Do not put fresh water on the sting as tempting as it may be. This will actually increase the release of venom from the thousands of tiny stingers called nematocysts. It’s an old wives tale that you can urinate on a jellyfish sting. This will not address the pain the sting has caused.

Temporary Pain Relief From A Jellyfish Sting

For temporary pain relief, you can immerse the area in warm salt water. A lifeguard may treat you with a vinegar spray to help dull the pain. It’s still important to see a professional since the jellyfish nematocysts release poison into your bloodstream. If you can’t get immediate medical help, you can take a card and try to scrape off the nematocysts as much as possible. It’s still important to seek care and treatment for the jellyfish sting since scraping with the card is not one hundred percent effective.

Medical Care and Treatment For Jellyfish Stings

Be warned that a jellyfish sting will often appear to start healing over a day or two and then have an extreme and painful flare up several days later. Rashes, swelling, and raised red marks can appear at the site of the sting. Burning, itching, and severe pain are often a side effect of the jellyfish sting.

If you get stung by a jellyfish:

  • Get out of the water and find medical care
  • If your tetanus shot is out of date, get one immediately


It’s wise to take precautions on any trip to the beach and to check with local officials or lifeguards to find out if jellyfish are prevalent. From now until fall, it’s prime jellyfish season. They especially like dusk so you might want to avoid the waves especially during that time. It’s advised to wear a special suit during jellyfish season, especially if you will be spending time in known infested waters or spending extended time in them. If you see a dead jellyfish, avoid touching it or stepping on it since you can still get stung.

Why do Jellyfish Sting?

Jellyfish sting to trap prey and also sting as a defense mechanism. They don’t seek out humans, but if they come into contact with one (as they swim or are carried in by the waves) their tentacles reach out and shoot harpoon-like stingers (nematocysts) that contain neurotoxic venom. You can even be stung by a tentacle that is no longer attached to the jellyfish. So, you might want to give them a break from blame. We are swimming in their home.

Jellyfish Stings In The News

Our own Jim Callis, P.A. and Provider Manager shared some advice and tips with WSAV News 3 here in Savannah and the Coastal Empire.

For your Safety: How to treat jellyfish stings

Jellyfish Sting Safety


Urgent Care 24/7 is always available to treat your jellyfish stings and other illnesses and injuries. Urgent Care 24/7 Whitemarsh is the closest urgent care clinic to Savannah’s beach, Tybee Island, and is open 7 days a week. Urgent Care 24/7 has 6 locations in Savannah, Pooler, and Atlanta, GA. Urgent Care 24/7 Centennial Park in Downtown Atlanta, GA is the newest 24/7 Urgent Care! Urgent Care 24/7 also owns and operates Bulldog Urgent Care in Athens, GA which serves the Athens and UGA communities. All locations are open 365 days a year, even on holidays!

Urgent Care 24/7 is committed to keeping you and your family healthy and functioning your best. There’s no need to wait to feel better. You and your family can walk in and be seen immediately with no waiting every day of the year. You’ll feel like family, have your questions answered, and be involved in deciding how aggressively you’d like to treat your illness.

Urgent Care 24/7 also offers Employment and Sports physicals. Occupational Health and Employer related services and D.O.T. and non-D.O.T. drug screens are always available at any clinic on a walk-in basis every day of the year. Need lab work? Full service lab testing is available with in-house and send-out labs. No referral or provider visit is needed for basic lab work. Most prescribed medications can be obtained without a trip to the pharmacy, since Urgent Care 24/7 also maintains an in-house dispensary. Patients always have the option for their prescription to be called into their preferred pharmacy.

You and your family can skip the long wait, exposure to serious illnesses, and big bill of the Emergency Room. X-ray and Ultrasound are even available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Urgent Care 24/7 Midtown and no referral is needed. Urgent Care 24/7 strives to get you feeling better fast with no waiting. All Office Visits are just $99. You can trust your family’s health to the staff of an award winning urgent care. Consistently rated #1, Urgent Care 24/7 has been consistently voted Best Urgent Care in people’s choice awards.

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