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Researchers Find Best Treatment for Man o’ War Stings

Posted May 6, 2017, 02:04 PM HST
28 Comments
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A freshly caught Physalia physalis. Credit: Rachel Skubel.

Trusted first aid sources have recommended that Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish stings be treated differently from others. But scientists at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) have researched current literature and found little evidence to support unique treatment for these stings.

Members of the Pacific Cnidaria Research Laboratory (PCRL) at UHM, Christie Wilcox, lead author of the paper and postdoctoral fellow, and Angel Yanagihara, senior author, head of the PCRL and assistant research professor at the UHM Pacific Biosciences Research Center and John A. Burns School of Medicine, teamed up with researchers in Ireland to find out what first aid methods are most effective for man o’ war stings.

Their results, published in the journal Toxins, suggest that man o’ war stings are no different than other jellyfish stings. Accordingly, the best first aid action for these stings is to rinse them with vinegar, removing any stingers or pieces of tentacles on the skin, followed by immersion in hot water or application of a hot pack for 45 minutes. In contrast, research by Yanagihara and Wilcox found that common first aid tactics of rinsing with seawater and applying ice packs actually made stings much worse.

Physalia are commonly stranded on shorelines in Hawai‘i when onshore winds push thousands of the small, painful jellies onto beaches. They are easily recognized by their bright blue tentacles and colorful inflated floating sails.

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Treatment methods for man o’ war stings from the Atlantic species of Physalia are the same. In a parallel study, Yanagihara teamed up with Tom Doyle, a jellyfish scientist and lecturer with the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway. Doyle and his team researched the Atlantic man o’ war and found that first aid using vinegar and hot water immersion or a hot pack are the best method of treatment.

 

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Lydia Walther Shi shi.May 06, 2017 02:59pm
Nick Brilliande Just a small note, Portuguese Man o War are not jellies, but Hydroids.May 06, 2017 03:08pm
Henry McShane yawn, they not badMay 06, 2017 04:13pm
Keith Snyder I just hope I never need this information.May 06, 2017 04:23pm
John Bruce That is just another reason never to leave your house!May 06, 2017 04:46pm
Susanne Holland ' Their results, published in the journal Toxins, suggest that man o’ war stings are no different than other jellyfish stings. Accordingly, the best first aid action for these stings is to rinse them with vinegar, removing any stingers or pieces of tentacles on the skin, followed by immersion in hot water or application of a hot pack for 45 minutes. In contrast, research by Yanagihara and Wilcox found that common first aid tactics of rinsing with seawater and applying ice packs actually made stings much worse. "May 06, 2017 04:59pm
Dave Levy Thanks for the cut n' paste. Your point....?May 06, 2017 05:10pm
Susanne Holland Dave Levy my point is for people to see the important info in the post-- those who won't click may still have a sting and need to know what to do. Aloha!May 06, 2017 05:12pm
Robbie Pohaku Meat tenderizer was the go 2 treatment when I was a kidMay 06, 2017 06:24pm
Cris Celene Duarte Always heard about urine 😂May 06, 2017 06:35pm
John Bertram This is also the same treatment for fire worm stings. Not that people here are super likely to tangle with fire worms, but for anyone who does...May 06, 2017 06:56pm
Zarina Klarhet No...don't do it...ever.May 06, 2017 06:57pm
April Queja Thank you Susanne! I'm not a fan of click bait, when the headline is leading, but the information is elsewhere. Good to know it's plain old vinegar 😄May 06, 2017 08:48pm
Steve Seitz Swam face first into one at Mauna Kea beach one day. I dove down to the sandy bottom and rubbed a handful of sand on my face until my lungs about exploded. Worked like a charm!May 06, 2017 09:32pm
Luiz Salgado Vinegar is the only thingMay 07, 2017 12:57am
Luiz Salgado PortugueeeeMay 07, 2017 12:59am
Teri McAllister Torey Livesay FYI... but we never saw anyMay 07, 2017 03:53am
Tom DeSantis Smaller note, Jell-O isn't jellies either.May 07, 2017 04:39am
Peter Kruse Helpful , thank youMay 07, 2017 07:27am
Stacy Lynn Olivia MokeMay 07, 2017 03:26pm
Olivia Moke Perfect! That's what we did last time I had a shift in NapiliMay 07, 2017 03:27pm
Susan Quinn Playing in the waves at Hapuna last Thursday and quite surprised by one. Better tell the lifeguards this. I got told different info to ease pain and swelling.May 07, 2017 05:17pm
Chris Horton I really wanted to pee on my brother 😣May 07, 2017 10:04pm
Keith Kefford Getting someone to pee on your Pocho sting may not be the most *effective* treatment.... But it's still the most FUN!May 09, 2017 06:52am
Keith Kefford Even smaller note, jams aren't jellies either.May 09, 2017 06:54am
Ross Crawford YupMay 09, 2017 09:10pm
Lydia Walther Shi shi.May 06, 2017 02:59pm
Nick Brilliande Just a small note, Portuguese Man o War are not jellies, but Hydroids.May 06, 2017 03:08pm
Henry McShane yawn, they not badMay 06, 2017 04:13pm
Keith Snyder I just hope I never need this information.May 06, 2017 04:23pm
John Bruce That is just another reason never to leave your house!May 06, 2017 04:46pm
Susanne Holland ' Their results, published in the journal Toxins, suggest that man o’ war stings are no different than other jellyfish stings. Accordingly, the best first aid action for these stings is to rinse them with vinegar, removing any stingers or pieces of tentacles on the skin, followed by immersion in hot water or application of a hot pack for 45 minutes. In contrast, research by Yanagihara and Wilcox found that common first aid tactics of rinsing with seawater and applying ice packs actually made stings much worse. "May 06, 2017 04:59pm
Dave Levy Thanks for the cut n' paste. Your point....?May 06, 2017 05:10pm
Susanne Holland Dave Levy my point is for people to see the important info in the post-- those who won't click may still have a sting and need to know what to do. Aloha!May 06, 2017 05:12pm
Robbie Pohaku Meat tenderizer was the go 2 treatment when I was a kidMay 06, 2017 06:24pm
Cris Celene Duarte Always heard about urine 😂May 06, 2017 06:35pm
John Bertram This is also the same treatment for fire worm stings. Not that people here are super likely to tangle with fire worms, but for anyone who does...May 06, 2017 06:56pm
Zarina Klarhet No...don't do it...ever.May 06, 2017 06:57pm
April Queja Thank you Susanne! I'm not a fan of click bait, when the headline is leading, but the information is elsewhere. Good to know it's plain old vinegar 😄May 06, 2017 08:48pm
Steve Seitz Swam face first into one at Mauna Kea beach one day. I dove down to the sandy bottom and rubbed a handful of sand on my face until my lungs about exploded. Worked like a charm!May 06, 2017 09:32pm
Luiz Salgado Vinegar is the only thingMay 07, 2017 12:57am
Luiz Salgado PortugueeeeMay 07, 2017 12:59am
Teri McAllister Torey Livesay FYI... but we never saw anyMay 07, 2017 03:53am
Tom DeSantis Smaller note, Jell-O isn't jellies either.May 07, 2017 04:39am
Peter Kruse Helpful , thank youMay 07, 2017 07:27am
Stacy Lynn Olivia MokeMay 07, 2017 03:26pm
Olivia Moke Perfect! That's what we did last time I had a shift in NapiliMay 07, 2017 03:27pm
Susan Quinn Playing in the waves at Hapuna last Thursday and quite surprised by one. Better tell the lifeguards this. I got told different info to ease pain and swelling.May 07, 2017 05:17pm
Chris Horton I really wanted to pee on my brother 😣May 07, 2017 10:04pm
Keith Kefford Getting someone to pee on your Pocho sting may not be the most *effective* treatment.... But it's still the most FUN!May 09, 2017 06:52am
Keith Kefford Even smaller note, jams aren't jellies either.May 09, 2017 06:54am
Ross Crawford YupMay 09, 2017 09:10pm
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