Remember the "Friends" episode in which Monica was at the beach and got stung by a jellyfish? Chandler sprang into action and peed on Monica’s leg to relieve her pain.
If you or your friend is ever stung by a jellyfish, would this even work?
Don’t try this at home -- or the beach for that matter -- unless you really hate your buddy and want to cause her further pain.
To understand why jellyfish stings hurt so much and how to treat them, let's first dive into what they are. Jellyfish have special cells along their tentacles called cnidocytes, which contain little harpoons full of venom called nematocysts. These little harpoons can discharge lightning fast with the slightest of touch. So if you brush up against a jellyfish, there’s no avoiding them. This venom burrows into your skin causing pain, itching, redness and blisters. You need to act fast to tackle the searing pain, which can last for up to 24 hours, but peaks after a few minutes.
This video illustrates how the stings work:
If you do get stung, first rinse the affected area with salt water. Make sure no tentacles remain on your skin, lest you risk accidentally spreading the nematocysts (tweezers are your best bet here). The salt water will help deactivate those little "harpoons." Since you’re likely in or near the ocean, rinsing the sting is the simplest, easiest and closest solution. Vinegar works too, but sea water is better.
As for pee, it’s a good way to make the sting hurt worse. Because the composition of pee can vary so wildly depending on what you ate or drank that day, if it doesn’t have enough salt in it, it can trigger more nematocysts to discharge even more venom. The lack of salt changes the chemicals around the cell, which causes the nematocysts to release. Rinsing in fresh water has the same effect. So if you want to be a good friend/support buddy, keep your shorts on and leave the cap on your Fiji water.
TL;DR: Sea water and tweezers -- not pee -- are the best remedies for a jellyfish sting. Are we sure Joey was watching the right Discovery Channel show?