How far would you go for science? Would you shove jellyfish tentacles under your arms? These volunteers did.

By Seriously Science | July 14, 2016 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Jim G

Image: Flickr/Jim G

Behind every new medical advance, there often lies an army of volunteers who stepped up and offered their bodies to science. And some of these volunteer experiences are more glamorous than others. Like this one: testing a cream that prevents jellyfish stings.

“Their underarms were exposed to wet jellyfish tentacles in a watchglass. The following were recorded: time before pain, skin changes after four minutes, and pain intensity after 10 minutes.”

At least the jellyfish cream seems to have worked.😱

Prophylactic treatment of jellyfish stings–a randomised trial.

“BACKGROUND: Contact with jellyfish can cause skin irritation and manifestations. We wanted to investigate the prophylactic effect of a sun cream containing an inhibitor against jellyfish stings.

MATERIAL AND METHOD: We recruited 38 persons who were randomised such that each received two of three possible treatments, one on each underarm. Prophylactic treatment with sun cream containing jellyfish sting inhibitor, ordinary sun cream, and no cream. Their underarms were exposed to wet jellyfish tentacles in a watchglass. The following were recorded: time before pain, skin changes after four minutes, and pain intensity after 10 minutes, registered on a VAS scale.

RESULTS: Thirteen of 25 subjects who had the sun cream with jellyfish sting inhibitor did not register any pain after 4 minutes’ exposure, compared with two of 25 and two of 26 who had received pre-treatment with ordinary sun cream (p = 0.32) and no pre-treatment (p < 0.001), respectively. On average, subjects who had received prophylactic treatment with sun cream containing jellyfish sting inhibitor recorded a lower VAS score for pain/discomfort after 10 minutes. The difference was 10.6 mm (95 % CI 3.1-17.9) compared with ordinary sun cream and 14.2 mm (95 % CI 6.9-21.5) compared with no pre-treatment. A smaller number of subjects were found to have underarms with inflamed skin when prophylactic cream containing jellyfish sting inhibitor was used (6 of 25) than when ordinary sun cream was used (11 of 25) or no pre-treatment (12 of 26). There were no statistically significant differences between ordinary sun cream and no pre-treatment for any of the three outcomes.

INTERPRETATION: Prophylactic treatment with jellyfish sting inhibitor reduces the risk of subjects developing symptoms after exposure to jellyfish tentacles.”

Related content:
Underdog squid make giant swarming sperm.
What do giant squid look at with their basketball-sized eyes?
What doctors do when you get a live fish stuck in your throat. (Warning, it’s not pleasant.)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals
  • Uncle Al

    Who hears cnidarians scream when being vivisected? Jellyfish lives matter. Tentacles up! Don’t cut! No, wait. The vivisectors were very irresponsible in their ripping apart of living flesh, but they identify as being the rapists, so it’s OK.


Seriously, Science?

Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
Follow us on Twitter: @srslyscience.
Send us paper suggestions: srslyscience[at]

See More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar