Should you urinate on a jellyfish sting?

Lion's mane
Image caption Lion's Mane species have a powerful sting and are on the rise in Wales

The warm weather has seen a rise in jellyfish in the UK. Clare Spencer asks if there is any truth in the myth that urinating on a jellyfish sting relieves the pain.

Meet the Lion's Mane. It's 2m wide, can have metres of trailing tentacles and - increasingly - hangs out around north Wales and the North West of England. But most importantly it has a powerful sting.

This outbreak of jellyfish blooms could be closely followed by another outbreak - of anecdotes about weeing on jellyfish stings. Nicky Campbell didn't hold back on BBC Five Live this morning, recounting a time he saw this treatment being administered. But he wasn't convinced of its effectiveness. "I'm thinking to myself as I saw it 'this has got to be a myth'. I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere."

Yes Nicky, the joke has been made. It was in Friends - the episode is officially known as The One With The Jellyfish. When Monica gets stung, so the story goes, Joey remembers a Discovery Channel documentary suggesting that urinating on a jellyfish sting will make the pain go away. After Joey experiences stage fright, Chandler is forced to do the deed. Cue a traumatised three having to confess to the rest of the gang about their distressing experience.

But should we follow suit? No, says Dr Peter Richardson. He has been researching jellyfish numbers, and insists that urine doesn't help a jellyfish sting. He is very clear on the issue: "Peeing on a jellyfish sting is not advised." The Scientific American busted this myth back in 2007. It warned that urine, on occasion, can even cause the sting to burn more, not less. More importantly, Dr Richardson adds, it's not something he'd like to see on the beach.

He does suggest that some jellyfish stings are alkaline so you can treat them with vinegar. But The One With a Bottle of Vinegar is an episode which would probably never have made it.

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