Jellyfish Scar Treatment and Minimizing Pain

Jellyfish Scar Treatment and Minimizing Pain

We previously wrote about what happens when a jellyfish stings; now we want to tackle what to do about the pain, and subsequently, a jellyfish scar treatment.

Scientists at the University of Hawaii found that a simple supplement, zinc gluconate, inhibited the potassium from escaping the cells because of the venom. In the studies on this, the mice who received it lived longer. The scientists believe that administering zinc could be life saving in human sting victims (1).

At the University of California San Diego Medical Center, researchers working at the Department of Emergency Medicine found that vinegar causes a lot more pain or nematocyst discharge in the majority of species. When the nematodes discharge, more venom enters the body. The nematodes discharge whenever they are touched.

The scientists decided that the best thing to do is remove the nematocysts inside the tentacles, wash the area with saltwater,  and apply topical lidocaine. The only time vinegar was found to be helpful was for a bluebottle (Physalia) jellyfish sting. This type of jellyfish is in the same family as the Portuguese man-of-war. (2)

At the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah GA, researchers found that many of the usual ways to treat jellyfish stings (vinegar, ammonia, meat tenderizer, baking soda and urea) did not relieve the pain. However, when lidocaine was sprayed on the skin, the nematocysts didn’t discharge any more venom from the tentacles. (3)

But this won’t necessarily help remove the scar. For the scar, you’ll need to take action with a proven formula that actually lessens and in essence, removes scars. And remember, there’s a period of time when the skin restructures itself after a wound injury of any kind. Thus it’s best not to put the scar removal cream on the wound until a scar actually has formed.

Other Problems with Jellyfish Stings

Did you know that different types of jellyfish stings cause different symptoms? The symptoms may include severe muscle pains especially in the lower back, muscle cramps, agitation, vomiting, and sweating. It’s amazing that a small little jellyfish can cause so much grief. However, it is also true that some jellyfish can grow to the size of 88 pounds (40 kg).  Getting stung by one of them can be quite traumatic!

In Iraq, jellyfish stings are common. Scientists wanted to know how often fishermen were stung by jellyfish and surveyed three Marine stations. Jellyfish had stung 79% of the 150 fishermen, most commonly in hands and arms, followed by legs. Their wounds itched, burned and looked like a red whelp. After a few days, a rash developed that was red, itchy, inflamed and slightly raised from the surface of the skin (4).

In the Netherlands, a 26-year-old woman who had been surfing in Indonesia got a jellyfish sting on her right leg. The sting looked like a maculopapular rash at first (red, inflamed, patchy) and then changed into very red linear tracks a few days later (5).  The report didn’t detail what happened after that.

In one 33-year-old woman stung by a jellyfish in North Carolina, the blisters and itching went away after the 10th day, but still was reddened and slightly rough in texture eight months later (6).

Jellyfish sting scars can last for quite awhile. Use some of the latest technology to remove their emotional and physical sting.

Do you have a scar from a jellyfish sting?

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  1. The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please speak to your doctor to treat any medical condition. Information on this site is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
  2. Brian Smith says:

    I suffered a Portuguese Man=O=War sting on my hand two years ago. I felt the paralysis move up from my right hand up into my jaw, mouth and tongue. It then moved to the left side of my face into my chest and left arm. We raced to the hospital but by the time we got there (40mins) I felt the numbness begin to dissipate. My life threatening symptoms cleared up except the swelling in the palm of my hand. Two and a half years later the there is still a swollen area 1.5″ long by 3/4″ wide. It contains a protective body of water under a thick layer of skin. To this day if I extend my hand fully I experience a flash of pain. On occasion the swollen area will be struck by a sharp object releasing more neurotic peptides causing an incredible amount of pain. I keep hoping one day to wake up to a fully healed hand but I feel like it will never go away.

  3. I was stung whilst swimming in the sea near Es Cana in Ibiza. I have no idea what type of jellyfish it was. I vaguely recall spotting a pinkish coloured quite small jellyfish nearby. I also heard people near the shoreline saying there were jellyfish visible whilst I was in the water. The pain was incredible, really very intense. As though someone had placed a high voltage electric charge into a wound. The worst of it was the pain afterwards. The red individual scar marks remained on my side for almost 12 months. I was amazed there were no adequate warnings. I dread to think what a facial or especially eye injury would be like from one of these stings.All I can see when I read up on that location is inane stuff about vinegar and mild itchiness, not for me it wasn’t I can assure you.

  4. By the way, if anyone could tell me what type of jellyfish inhabit the waters of Es Cana in Ibiza , I would me much obliged.Thanks.

    • Hi Al,
      my friend got stung also at Es Cana in Ibiza, September 2013. She still has pain and the scar gets thick and burns still, after 11 months. We wonder if it will ever heal again. Please contact us, maybe we can help each other. Cheers. ou email: anna.tanzt(at)

      • Susan Northcott says:

        I was stung on sunday in ibiza not far from the beach maybe 10m out on route to las salinas a small beach past the salt flats and my arm still hurts has left an imprint of what looks like a jelly fish on my forearm and still sore…going to get it checked out properly. Sadly didn’t see it only heard it so so painful.

  5. I was surfing this past week at Rodanthe NC and I felt my leg get wrapped by something and then followed by a sharp stinging pain. I kicked my leg and shook it of, then when I tried paddling away my right arm got wrapped by whatever this thing was. The pain lasted for about a hour, two at most, but it was followed 2 days later by a rash and itch that resembles poison ivy. This is day 7 and the rash and itch is still there, crazy !. Can anyone tell me what this thing was and how long will this itch and rash last ? My guess is it was either a jellyfish or a man of war. Is this rash and itch common ?

  6. Johnie Ellison says:

    I recently got stung by a small jellyfish at Myrtle Beach, SC on my wrist. It hurt for just a couple minutes and then didn’t really hurt after I put some vinegar on it from the lifeguard. However, it’s been 6 days since I got stung and the mark still has not gone away. It doesn’t hurt, but it does itch every now and then. It looks a little like poison ivy (red and bumpy). How can I help the sting go away? Is there anything I can put on it. Again, it’s been almost a week and it still hasn’t gone away. I’m just hoping that’s normal and that it goes away soon.

  7. I was in waist deep water in Myrtle Beach, SC last week. I felt something wrap around my leg and then an incredibly sharp, burning sensation. I attempted to kick it off with my other foot, and immediately had the sensation down my foot and around my ankle. The lifeguard had vinegar which I immediately applied. It stopped hurting within the hour, and I didn’t seem to have any reaction. It is now day 13 and I still have large, linear marks, a red, puffy patch on my calf, and smaller bumps and linear marks up my foot and around my ankle. They appear to be getting worse. Several times a day they begin itching something terrible! I have tried a hydrocortisone ointment. It seems to be exacerbated when I’m hot, or by certain clothing. I even feel small, sharp pains in it. I keep reading everywhere, but can’t find out what to do, or if I should expect a nasty scar.

    • Hi Brittany, so sorry to hear this! Many jellyfish stings do result in a scar, sometimes due to the type of jellyfish/sting and more often due to constant scratching that results in creating a wound. Definitely have your doctor check out the affected area. As for a scar treatment, we always recommend InviCible Scars:

    • Hey Brittany, I was just in Myrtle Beach last week as well and I got stung by a jellyfish……so I think we probably got stung within a day of each other or the same day….I had no idea they were even in the water. I have the same problem….where I got stung (my calf as well) is so itchy and puffy and slightly red. After reading up I think these results could last for a while…I never had a scar like this….the way its raised in want not. I’m really bummed.

    • Hi Brittany, I too was at Myrtle Beach around that time, I also was stung in the exact same place as you and it sucks! I cant even wear shorts without being grossed out by the red bumps. Anyways mines been itching really bad and what I use to prevent myself from itching it is a heating pad. I just lay it on my calf and it stops the itching for the day but if you don’t have one running it under hot water helps or ice. I used a lot of ice helps numb the itch for a little while then wrap cloth around it so you wont itch it. But like I said before anything hot works!

    • Hey brittany,
      It seems like all of us have experienced a sting in Myrtle Beach! I was there for the same days you were and I have gotten a sting exactaly like you have describedd. I was stung twice on my right leg. It’s been a few weeks and it doesnt seem to have gotten any better. I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work.
      Best of luck

    • I also live in Surfside Beach which is very close to Myrtle Beach and was stung by a jellyfish 2 months ago on my arm and I have raised bumps and it itches on and off I have tried everything from vinegar 2 meat tenderizer hydrocortisone taking an oral steroid nothing takes the bumps in the itching away my friends that are locals so this can last up to 6 months I don’t really think they have anything to treat this the only other option I thought would be an antibiotic I work around doctors and nurses and they’ve all seen it but it seems like it’s not going away anytime soon

  8. I was stung by a small jellyfish on the wrist yesterday while snorkeling in the Bahamas. I was wearing a silver/metallic watch on my wrist where I was stung. I think the silver attracted the jellyfish. It was strange because I was snorkeling an old plane wreck. I started feeling a sensation on my wrist that felt like when you touch your tongue to a 9v battery. I thought maybe the metal of the plane wreck was doing something weird with my watch. Upon further inspection and removing my watch I had 3 quarter sized welts that looked like large mosquito bites. The pain isn’t as bad today, but is still painful like the 9v battery to the tongue or when your foot falls asleep. It’s tingly and feels almost like electricity. It only really hurt badly for a day.

    • Scott, i got stung in water that was about 80cm deep while getting off a jet ski. I had no idea what happened and my first reaction was to think (illogically) i had been electrocuted! Exactly how i would describe it!

  9. Lesley says:

    I was on Caye Caulker in Belize a few weeks ago. I went swimming, but felt no sting or itch and i didn’t see any sea grass or jellyfish. The follwing day I had red marks on my legs, stomach and shoulder (not raised at all. Most were blotches about 3cm x3 cm. Some about 1cm or smaller. A few were long lines (15cm x 1cm wide the whole length of the mark).
    The following morning they started to blister, by evening the blisters were huge (3 cm raised off my skin and about 3cm x 2cm in size). The next morning the firm orange blisters were painful so I went to the island doctor, he drained the blisters with a syringe, gave me antiallergens and antibiotics (for the open skin) and a rather painful 50ml hydrocotisone IV injection (there were no drips available, so he went with a big injection into the vein on the inside of my elbow). He also gave me calamine lotion; the marks didn’t itch but apparently the zinc dries out weeping and oozing sores, it worked well and created a nice barrier to stop bacteria entering the wounds. I’ve asked other doctors since and they were happy with his treatment.
    It has been 3 weeks and the last of the open wounds are still healing. A few places healed then reblistered a few times. Each time the blister would pop and under the top skin was an open wound that took a week to heal and was quite sore, something similar to a gooey skinned knee wound.
    I am still covered in red/brown marks that look like they will scar for years, but they no longer look like burn marks. The marks never itched and other than blisters they were not raised or very deep. I did not have systemic problems such as fever.

    Can anyone tell me what stung me?????? The various locations across my body suggest either a large jellyfish or a school of small jellyfish. Given the 15cm length of some of the marks we can rule out short tentacled jellyfish. the blisters looked exactly like those in the first photo on this link:
    So it could be a portuguese man of war, but I’ve been told it’s basically impossible to be stung by one and NOT feel it.
    Toxic sea grass apparently wouldn’t hurt me this badly.

    Any ideas? Also how to reduce the scars? I’d rather not look like I’ve been in a blender for the next 10 years, I definitely will not look ladylike in a dress1 🙁

    • Hi Lesley, sorry to hear about your encounter with a jellyfish! While we can’t speak to the kind that stung you, maybe other readers may have some insight. As far as the scars go, here are some tips: wear sunscreen SPF 30+ as the sun will further darken your scars and unlike normal, uninjured skin, the darkness will not fade over time. Massage on a scar treatment twice a day. The massage will help to soften the scar tissue and the scar treatment will help to fade the discoloration. Be sure to exercise regularly (promotes oxygen to the cells) and eat a diet high in Vitamin C, zinc and copper. If you browse our blog, we have many articles on those topics. Good luck!

    • I just had the same thing happen in Tulum Mexico. I may have felt a little sting, but I had a very mild sunburn so I thought it was just that. 48 hours later I had welts with blisters on my stomach, hips and down both of my legs. I had some very strong prescription steroid cream that I put on the next day, and it’s now day 4 and things are calming down as far as the blisters, but now I have all these ugly, crazy, red welts all over the lower part of my body.

      My questions to you are;
      Did you ever find out what might have stung you? I have suspicion that it was probably the same as your’s, since Belize and Tulum are very close together.

      How have you doing with the scarring? I can’t imagine these welts go away very quickly?

      Any info you have would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi!
      Did you ever figure out what stung you or what the blisters were? You describe exactly what my daughter and niece have and they have been diagnosed with bullous impetigo.

  10. Kimberly says:

    I was stung by a jellyfish a couple of weeks ago in Jamaica, one of a few that were stung that week, in the shallows near the beach. I did not see it in the waves, but brushed it off my upper arm, thinking it was seaweed, and then felt the sting. The property staff all agreed that pouring vinegar on it was the key. I then developed a rash and the nurse I went to see said I was having an allergic reaction. I had two shots in the butt and took a rash/anti-itch cream with me. The next day the doc saw me and prescribed prednisone and Claritin. I was fine while on the meds, just felt a spasm in my arm now and then. However, now that I’m off the meds, the rash has come back stronger and I am having significant trouble with long-lasting muscle cramps that are traveling up my leg and both my ankles literally lock in horrible pain for minutes. I have increased my magnesium and potassium, and my blood count tests all looked good for electrolytes and most other worrisome ideas. I haven’t found anything online about the muscle cramp issue related to the stings – maybe it’s not, but since it is a side effect in the early stages of the sting, I guess the timing seems coincidental starting now in an otherwise very healthy 45 year old female. Exercise seems to exacerbate it. I am literally not wanting to go to bed tonight as I can feel them coming on now and don’t want that horrible pain. If anyone has any ideas on this let me know. Since they are on-going and are progressing higher, I am going to see the doc again about it. Right now, the scar/rash is not annoying – I am hoping it might be sort of cool looking, and compared to the cramps, a minor worry.

    • Hi Kimberly! I had the muscle pain as well after a week of the sting. And am not sure whether it was caused by the sting but I usually don’t have muscle cramp problem. And am not worried on the scar either though it’s still itching.

  11. Hi,
    looking for some advice. I was stung on the calf about 5 years ago, i dont know what kind of jellyfish it was. I was in Thailand. I received treatment on the beach and later went to hospital as numbness was going up my leg. After treatment and few weeks later i go back and the doctor says all is fine, thee are some small brownish area which look kind of like bruise but as they are on my calf i am not too bothered.
    Here is the problem- Over the last 5 years, i would say about 5-6 times a year one of the ‘bruises’ will open up. It is not a massive problem but it becomes incredibly itchy again and ends up becoming a scab? Is this normal? Do i still have poison or barbs in me? Sorry if these are silly questions!

    • Sorry should have added- it becomes itchy again, opens up and ends up becoming a scab

    • Hi Paul, bruises shouldn’t open up and scab after 5 years. It’s definitely something you should speak with your dr about.

    • Candace Hoy says:

      Did you ever find out more about why it is still itching? I was stung on my calf about 13 years ago and still every so often it flares up again and itches like crazy until I have little scabs again that go in the same pattern from my sting. It’s making me crazy

  12. Hello. We went to Thailand on March 2015 and my 10 years old son got stung by some kind of jellyfish. He didnt feel or see anything and took few days before we were tolf that reason of his weird looking burns oround face neck chest and fingers were from jellyfish. People told us that motorboats bring those from open sea and chop them in smaller pieces snd even dead they dont hurt that much but will burn still. My daughter have some mimilar marsk on her arm but far less but she got sick with fewer etc st that time and we had no clue about jellyfish stings on her too.Thai is really odd to me because always when i read about those there is said that they should hurt. Now it is been 3 months snd scars are not deeb but wisible for sure.

  13. St Vincent and the Grenadines, Eastern Caribbean
    My 6 year old daughter leaped up from shallow water at Indian Bay, gripping her arm in obvious excruciating pain. I glimpsed something like a jellyfish swimming away. Within seconds, welts appeared on her shoulder and spread down her arm to inner elbow.
    I rushed her to the nearest doctor and got a shot, some numbing creme and an ice pack . Got a prescription for other meds, predcort, histal and hydrocortisone.
    Nothing seemed to work. I looked up home remedies, did vinegar… Didn’t help, did ice (helped somewhat). I tried patting the area with rubbing
    alcohol then coated it with baby powder. That was the only time she smiled since. It didn’t stop but relieved her of some pain. I then gave her paramol. She cried a thousand tears and my heart broke ten thousand times more. I wish it had been me. Sigh. 😭 She’s sleeping now.
    I don’t know about scarring but I hope it doesn’t.
    I am grateful that it’s not worse, like on the face or genital area. I have a baby under 1 year old but I didn’t take her along. I’m also very grateful for that.
    That’s it for me and beaches though.

  14. Hi,

    I have just come back from Thailand this morning. Yesterday, whilst snorkeling, I felt a very sudden sharp pain on my calf which instantly shocked me enough to make me get out of the sea and back onto the boat. I didn’t notice anything on my leg appearance wise but it felt itchy (which I at the time assumed was from the mosquito bite (around same area). Around ten minutes later, my leg calf stantly bruised up in purple, blue and blackish sort of colours. It has a throbbing pain at times and is quite sore to touch. If I touch the area, it feels as if I have needles pricking me. I already washed off with sea water, soaked with vinegar (which I now know is no longer required) and shaved my legs. Could this definitely be a jellyfish sting that has left a big bruise on my leg? If so, is it poisonous and do I require medical attention?


  15. Cameron Mitchell says:

    A week ago today, I was in Half Moon Cay while on a Carnival Cruise. Myself and two friends walked a ways down the beach to get away from the crowds of people to do some snorkeling. It was here where I got stung by some kind of jellyfish, I’m still not sure what kind due to the fact I never saw it. I was only in about 4 feet of water when it stung me and all I can remember is that extreme pain I felt. It felt like somebody had laced my neck with a red hot poker. When I got out of the water, one of my friends told me I had some thing on my neck, I ended up pulling off a tentacle that was about 8 inches in length which was clear with a bluish/purple color towards the end of the tentacle. Now a week later, it is still a little sensitive to the touch and I have huge scar. I wish I could post a picture cause words just don’t explain what the aftermath looks like. Stay safe everyone and swim with caution. These things can do some real harm.

  16. The pink purple ones are likely to be snottie which are rarro and not as toxic

  17. I recently travelled to Indonesia and got stung by jellyfish on my left wrist while diving. The first couple of hours was quite painful and I washed with vinegar immediately. The pain lasted for couple of hours and then I developed into a high fever condition but I thought it might be a food poisoning as there’s a few divers experienced the illness in that area. The fever gone after I took a few panadol so come to think of it what caused me fever was still a question to myself. The next whole week my wrist had a few red welt and I felt nothing but days after it became very itchy with red bumps. And I had muscle cramp on my left shoulder and lower back. I never thought of it might be caused by the sting until I saw few of you had the same symptom here. I have yet to consult a doctor.

  18. JustJhey says:

    Got stung by jellyfish while enjoying my summer in Zambales, Philippines. yesterday. A bit and tolerable pain accompanied with redness and itchiness. I applied vinegar on the affected part. But right now, I’m still feeling a bit uncomfortable on the said area. It’s quite itchy too.

  19. Siobhan Kelly says:

    While enjoying a swim in the Amalfi Coast two weeks ago, I sustained a jellyfish sting. While the pain was not intense, a mark was left immediately covering my calf. Because was not great, and I did not have access to medical things or wifi, I did not do anything but cover it in urine. However, the mark has scarred up two weeks later, and I would love to not have it there. What do you suggest I do at this point? Thank you so much for your help! All your articles have been incredible informative!!

  20. Myrtle Beach is one of the many hot spots for Jellyfish. Mostly moon jellies, but there are a few others that will travel through on occasion.

    Back when I was 15 I was swimming and felt something odd on my leg. I lifted my knee to find a rather small, clear (I believe it was a moon jelly) resting just above my knee. The area burned a bit, but my sunburn was worse so I never complained about it.
    Several months later, toward summer, the circular sting mark form the sting was still clearly visible, and the center was pale yellow. My knee had swollen up to double its normal size, but the pediatrician said it was fine.
    It took about 18-24 months for the sting mark to go away, and my knee never was the same again. I’m thinking I had a secondary infection that wasn’t caught.

    I urge anyone with a jellyfish sting to seek medical attention and speak up if it’s just not clearing up, or something else odd is going on (such as joint swelling) It’s not worth it to leave it be.

  21. 5 days ago I was stung/burned around my wrist by a jellyfish whilst swimming in Cinque Terre. Unsure of what to do at the time, we asked a local who suggested fresh water (clearly not the best thing to do after internet research). It has since scabbed, gone down, then re-swollen, itched and sometimes still hot to touch. I notice there are tiny little dark spots in the inflamed areas and wondering if this could still be the stingers? They do sting a but when I apply pressure to them. I think my skin has grown over them quite a bit however if they are. Any information for the tiny dark spots would be greatly appreciated.

  22. 3 weeks ago I got a jellyfish bite, in Koh Lanta. Didn’t see anything, just felt smth scratched my leg. Only after 10 minutes it started to be visible: a long line with red bumps, very very itchy and stingy and painful. A Thai waiter brought me some homemade paste with leaves and bananas and after 2 hours the pain and redness went away. But after 3 weeks, the scar reappeared on my leg and it’s very itchy and visible. I find this very odd..

  23. I got my scar 3 years ago, and it still hurt whenever I swim in the beach, is it possible?

  24. Hi there, I was stung a week ago in shallow waters round Ibiza, Spain. It was a smallish red spotted jellyfish, The pain was really strong but had worn off after a few hours. It’s now 8 days later the and wound is again feeling puffy and raw and incredibly itchy! The redness is actually spreading further from the original site of the sting which makes me wonder if it’s somehow infected but I can’t understand how that could happen?

  25. Hi there, I got stung by a box jellyfish 2 months ago. It took several weeks to fully recover but now I’m just left with large scars on my entire arm and back. Does anyone else have experience with box jellyfish? Or knows how the scars will turn out?

  26. 3 months ago jelly sting in Mallorca. Now a thick scare, the scar tissue keeps forming. Steroid cream seems to initially make the scar even thicker, going to Harly Street scar clinic tomorrow.

  27. Hi I’m yen, I got stung with a jelly fish, after 10th day my scar became red and itchy which I couldn’t help it. Please help me what kind of medicine I’m can apply this. I suffered very much esp at night. I couldn’t slept well because it so itchy. Thanks for the help.

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