Treatment of Jellyfish Stings in UK coastal waters: Vinegar or Sodium Bicarbonate
Report By: Heather Prestwich - GP
Search checked by Rachel Jenner - Consultant in Emergency Medicine
Institution: Isle of Arran and Manchester Royal Infirmary
Date Submitted: 6th December 2002
Date Completed: 31st August 2007
Last Modified: 8th July 2007
Status: Green (complete)
Three Part Question
In [patients who have sustained a jellyfish sting from UK coastal waters], is [treatment with 5% acetic acid or sodium bicarbonate], [more effective at decontamination]?
A six year old child in bathing trunks and towel attends the emergency department, howling with anxious parents. He has just been swimming in the sea and has large weals on his arm and leg from a common jelly fish sting which are very sore. You wonder what is the most effective way to treat this pain.
Medline 1950 to June 2007. OVID interface.
[exp decontamination/ OR exp Sodium Bicarbonate/ OR exp bicarbonates OR exp Acetic Acid/ OR vinegar.mp. OR antivenin.mp. OR exp Antivenins/ OR baking soda.mp.] AND [exp "Bites and Stings"/ OR sting.mp OR exp Cnidarian Venoms/ OR exp Cnidaria/ OR jellyfish.mp. OR exp Venoms/ OR venom$.mp. OR chrysaora hyoscella.mp. OR compass jellyfish.mp. OR non stinging barrell.mp. OR root mouth.mp. OR rhizostoma octop$.mp. OR lions mane.mp. OR cyanea capillatum.mp.] AND [exp Treatment Outcome/ OR exp Prognosis/ OR outcome.mp. OR exp Outcome Assessment (HEALTH CARE)/ ] LIMIT to english
325 articles of which none were relevant.
No studies were found comparing the two treatments. Most studies have been done in Australia on Box Jellyfish stings, for which, vinegar is used to prevent stinging cells adherent to the skin from discharging.
Clinical Bottom Line
Vinegar has been shown to work in Australian jellyfish, but there is no data on bicarbonate use.