Matt Damon: you’re not supposed to pee on jellyfish stings, take a bath


Matt Damon appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show last week to promote Ford vs. Ferrari, which I hope to see this weekend. He mentioned that he was jet-lagged, having just finished filming in France. He is loopy and it’s kind of funny. Due to his rambling during the interview, he and Ellen cover a variety of tidbits to various degrees of success. Like, when Matt talked about his DNA results, Ellen deemed his story boring, so she cut him off, which made me laugh. She quickly moved on to Matt’s buddy Chris Hemsworth, which always makes me happy. When Chris appeared on Ellen last year, he talked about some of the harrowing adventures Matt’s had in Australia, like stepping on a giant snake. He also talked briefly about Matt’s daughter, Stella, being stung by a jellyfish, which, according to Chris, was one of the worst he’s ever seen. So Ellen asked Matt about it, including if anyone peed on poor Stella to take the sting away. Dr. Matt said no, no one did, because that myth is a load of bunk.

The interview is queued up to Matt’s Australia stories, starting with the snake story. The transcription is just the jellyfish part:

My daughter Stella [9]. Got stung by a jellyfish.

Did someone have to pee on her?
I’d been stung by a jellyfish, once in Hawaii, like we were fishing for the day with some friends of mine who were all, “I’ll pee on ya’.” But it turns out, that’s just something that someone made up because they thought it was funny. What you’re supposed to do is put somebody in a really hot bath and get a sponge and gently remove the tiny little needles that are in you when one stings you – so you brush them out.

[To the audience] Okay, so nobody has to pee on anybody
Or just stay in America

The fact is – Matt is 100% correct. There is no basis for the “pee on it” recommendation. The idea was that urine would neutralize the pain. It does not and can make it worse. Instead, douse the area with vinegar to deactivate the stinging cells. And, as Matt said, pluck out all the tentacles. Heat will help alleviate the pain, thus the hot bath. And don’t pee on a stingray wound either – same deal, it doesn’t work. Ugh, I’m just cringing at the thought. I’m so scared of jellyfish/stingray stings. My poor brother got stung by a stingray when we were at my folks. His daughters and I were teasing him about getting someone to pee on him as he soaked his foot at the lifeguard station with a bunch of other victims (none of us paid attention to the signs). Needless to say, he did not find it amusing as he endured the pain (and a week later Steve Irwin died from his stingray attack). So for the love of gawd – don’t get medical advice from Friends.

In the second half of the interview, Matt talked about being driven 200 MPH by 80-year old Mario Andretti at the Indy 500. How bizarre am I that the thought of a jellyfish sting terrifies me, but I would give my eye teeth to get in a race car with octogenarian Mario Andretti?

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Photo credit: YouTube, Getty Images and WENN Photos

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15 Responses to “Matt Damon: you’re not supposed to pee on jellyfish stings, take a bath”

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  1. Marie says:

    I also got stung by a jellyfish as a child and let me tell you, that s**t really hurts. Good thing we had vinegar around beause we always have some sort of ceviche whenever we go to the beach. My cousin did recommend peeing on it because it was the 90s and we all watched Friends but my other cousin who was a nurse just laughed and said it was all untrue.

  2. Busyann says:

    This made me like Matt more. He’s not always my cup of tea. Fun interview.

  3. Gutterflower says:

    Holy hell Hemsworth looks gooood in that bottom pic

    • Ali says:

      Right? I think the headline should be Chris Hemsworth’s friend Matt Damon says don’t pee on a jellyfish sting and lead with that picture instead.

    • smcollins says:

      My favorite Chris *always* looks good (even as fat Thor he was still packing the sexy) 😉

      • Erinn says:

        I had some complicated feelings about that Thor. I’d have hit it. Actually, he seemed super fun if you ignore the sadness haha.

  4. Erinn says:

    I’ve never been stung, but they’re brutal. I grew up swimming in the Atlantic ocean almost every other day in the summers – but like Nova Scotia portion of the Atlantic, so COLD. I’d always see a ton of jellyfish washed up in the mornings, but I can’t recall ever seeing them swimming in the ocean more than once or twice.

    One of the guys I went to school with had his dad bring in a Portuguese Man O War jelly for show and tell. It was just a tiny one, but he’d found it while lobster fishing so he brought it in. And I guess they’ve found a Lions Mane jelly on our beaches in the last couple years as well.

  5. Jess says:

    The Gulf of Mexico is the closest to me and I’ve been stung by jellyfish countless times, never tried peeing on them thank god, but I thought that’s what you did! I’ll bring vinegar on vacation with me from now on. The stingrays I’ve come across are pretty tame, we seem to hit the gulf around the time they mirgrate every year and they’ll suddenly appear out of nowhere in huge groups and swim under or around you, it’s hilarious watching people freak out, I did too the first time happened!

  6. Noodle says:

    I live in a beach town in Orange County, CA, and twice a year, we have a huge migration of stingrays which end up stinging an absurd number of people. I think our last migration had around 130 people stung in ONE DAY. They tell us to shuffle our feet anytime we are in the water, which displaces the stingrays hiding on the sand floor. Yeah, no thanks. In this case, I’d rather be working my butt off to pay the exorbitant mortgage and cost of living.

    • Erinn says:

      Oh god, that is horrifying. I love stingrays… but I wouldn’t want to be surprised by one!

      I always would do this thing (still do) where you stand in the shallows and wiggle your feet back and forth while the tide goes in and out, and you just end up with your feet buried very quickly… which… is probably exactly what the sting ray do, so I’m sure I’d end up stung in that habitat lol.

  7. Shirleygailgal says:

    I choose Mario Andretti every time, too! When I was growing up my dad was, for 13 years, the starter at Mt Tremblant Formula One race course. Met Pierre Trudeau, and was taught to drive (i think I was about 10, maybe 12) by Mario Andretti and Jackie Stewart and David Hobbs, who were all great friends of my parents. And my sister dated Gilles Villeneuve briefly. So yeah, … I choose the drive vs the swim every time! Right there with you @Hecate!

  8. margie says:

    My niece got stung by a jellyfish last summer. The lifeguard told her the best thing to do at the beach, before you get home to use vinegar or shower or whatever, is just to use some preparation H. It has an analgesic that helps the pain, and it shrinks blood vessels and that is beneficial for some reason I can’t remember. A little tube of preparation H is much easier to pack in a bag than a giant jug of vinegar, so we now pack preparation H to the beach whenever we go.

  9. Sof says:

    I was stung by a jellyfish that wrapped itself around my foot. I was incredibly annoyed because it stung me in the shore, I wasn’t even swimming! We didn’t have any vinegar so I had to suck it up and let the burning sensation pass.

  10. I’m a scuba instructor. Have been for 20 years. The whole “pee on a sea sting” comes from a sea urchin NOT a jellyfish. Urine has ammonia – which (in theory) would contract the skin making the sea urchin spine easier to remove. It DOES NOT WORK either – because urchin spines have a little hook at the end making them hard to remove. There is no reason to put ammonia on a jellyfish sting.

    As stated above the best remedies for jellyfish are vinegar, meat tenderizer, hot water and Prep H.