Jellyfish Squish  - Sting and Bite Treatment
Jellyfish Squish

Sting remedy aims to squish jellyfish pain

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June 17, 2008 - The Virginian-Pilot

This just might be the summer you take the meat tenderizer out of the beach bag.

A new product called Jellyfish Squish is touting itself as a no-mess replacement for all the old sting remedies: the vinegar, the tenderizer, and, yes, that other one involving bodily fluids.

"Within just a few minutes, it completely numbs the pain," said Chip Grayson, the Savannah, Ga., entrepreneur who created Jellyfish Squish.

The active ingredient is an anesthetic called lidocaine, which is included at the maximum strength allowed in over-the-counter sales by the Food and Drug Administration, Grayson said.

Lidocaine is also an ingredient in a range of familiar products, including Bactine first aid spray and Solarcaine burn relief gel with aloe.

Pitcher Roger Clemens has said it was lidocaine and vitamin B-12 that he was injecting, not steroids.

Grayson said his creation beats home remedies because it knocks out pain from nematocysts that have fired venom into the skin and stops those that haven't fired from going off.

Nematocysts are the stinging mechanisms on the tentacles of a jellyfish. When triggered by contact, "a small barbed apparatus goes out and with it is the venom," said Beth Firchau, the curator of fishes at the Virginia Aquarium.

Dr. Joseph W. Burnett, the founder of the International Consortium for Jellyfish Stings, isn't convinced.

"Topical anesthetics don't work," said Burnett, who is also a Baltimore dermatologist. "There isn't a topical medicine that will penetrate the skin that fast."

His advice: take aspirin or ibuprofen and wait for the pain to subside.

Grayson said he commissioned two professors at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah to do a double-blind test on the effectiveness of Jellyfish Squish. In a double-blind test, neither the individuals nor the researchers know who belongs to the control group and who belongs to the experimental group.

Volunteers wiped their arms with jellyfish and rated a variety of substances on how well they relieved pain from the stings. Among those tested were meat tenderizer, ammonia, alcohol and urea, which is a substitute for actual urine.

"The one that was proved most effective is the one that is now the main ingredient of Jellyfish Squish," said Dr. Peter Verity, one of the professors involved in the testing.

Jellyfish Squish, which is expected to hit shelves this week, also underwent trials last summer on the beaches of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Of about 2,500 people who tried the product, 86 percent reported much or total relief, Grayson said.

About 500 jellyfish stings were recorded at the Oceanfront last summer, said Tom Gill, captain of the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service.


Greg Gaudio, (757) 222-5125,

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