Sea Nettle Stings
Reader Says Papaya Remedy Works Best
After seeing an article on jellyfish, or sea nettles, in a back issue of Marine Notes on the web (July-August 1994), one of our readers e-mailed us a suggestion for treating their stings. Roger Jackson of Scotland, Maryland, an avid wind surfer in the nettle-filled Chesapeake Bay and the waters off North Carolina's barrier islands, discovered a new remedy he swears by.
He was using meat tenderizer to relieve the pain and swelling of nettle stings, when he noticed that papain was listed as the active ingredient. He decided to see if he could locate the substance. Defined in the dictionary as "an enzyme capable of digesting protein, obtained from the unripe fruit of the papaya," papain was available in health food stores in green papaya powder. He found that, when mixed into a paste with water, the powder worked much better than the meat tenderizer, eliminating the irritation caused by the sting within minutes.
After finding fresh papaya at the supermarket, he decided to see if it was also effective. He carried one to the beach with him and the next time he got stung, cut off a slice of papaya and applied it to the injury - he says that it relieved the pain instantly. "When smushed into a paste and applied to the affected skin area, fresh papaya provides the most dramatic 'cure' I've witnessed," says Jackson. "Even more dramatic is the rapid disappearance of any welts associated with sea nettle exposure." He has since used the papaya cure himself and shared it with others suffering from run-ins with nettles.
We've added Mr. Jackson's papaya treatment to our jellyfish article on the web and we welcome comments on his or any other remedies.