Don't pee on a jellyfish sting, and other venom no-nos

Venom expert Dr. Christie Wilcox debunks three popular myths about stings and bites from toxic creatures: jellyfish, snakes and spiders.

Myth #1: Pee on a jellyfish sting to ease the pain.

Dr. Wilcox tested this "urban legend" in her lab and found that this is absolutely not true. In fact, in some cases urine actually made it worse.

Though the intensity of the reaction varies along with the urine itself, at best, urine is inert, at which point you might as well use seawater instead. And at worst, pee causes so much stinging that the jelly would almost certainly inject more venom into you.

Alternative approach: pour vinegar over the sting, or soak the affected area in hot water for 20-30 minutes.

Myth #2: Suck out venom from a snake bite.

Dr. Wilcox says this doesn't work and only takes up time that could be spent getting medical attention.

It only takes 60 seconds for your blood to travel all the way around your body—so you're never going to get to all of the venom before it's spread. Instead, by attempting to remove the toxic fluid, you waste precious time, likely cause more damage, and might even risk harming yourself.

Alternative approach: Immediately call 9-1-1.

Myth #3: Waking up with a gross sore means you've been bitten by a spider while sleeping.

Only 3.8% of what people call "spider bites" are really from spiders.

Such misidentifications can have very serious implications. Potentially grave infections like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (or MRSA) can be overlooked as 'just a spider bite,' delaying essential medical care. So unless you actually see a spider bite you, you should probably assume that the mysterious and sudden growing wound on your arm isn't a spider bite.

Alternative approach: If it looks bad, don't assume it's a spider bite. Get it checked out.

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