Late summer is jellyfish season, and every year, without exception, the question comes up. The most memorable inquiry came from a grandmother in Vineyard Haven who wanted to protect her grandchildren. She inquired, “Does urine aid jellyfish stings?”

Without any research, I answered quickly and instinctively. “The trauma from watching your grandmother drop trou and pee on you would be far worse than the jellyfish sting was in the first place.”

The truth is that urine will not help the pain or discomfort of a jellyfish sting. Nor will many of the internet-recommended treatments.

The most common stinging jellyfishes found on the Vineyard include moon jellyfish, Portuguese man of wars, and lion’s mane jellyfish. To accomplish their pain-inducing prick, jellyfish have cells along their tentacles called cnidocytes. Within the cnidocytes are stinging capsules full of venom called nematocysts. These stinging cells contain venom and are like harpoons, triggering in less time than it takes you to blink, when they make contact with you or other organisms.

The nematocyst’s sting is not only quick, but very painful. If you have been stung, first thing to do is get out of the water. For those with allergies or if there is difficulty breathing, don’t hesitate to call for help.

Next order of business is removing any remaining stinging cells that are active even when separated from their gelatinous owner. Don’t forget that the nematocysts on a dead jellyfish are also active and can give a sting even though their owner is deceased.

The recommendation of scraping the affected area with a credit card or sand to remove any remaining nematocysts is definitely a bad idea since pressure increases the cells’ preponderance to fire so can make a bad situation worse. Freshwater can also be a trigger for the cells so avoid that also.

Folk and internet remedies, including shaving cream and razor, soap, lemon juice, alcohol, cola and, yes, urine, will make your suffering worse, since these have not been proven to stop the cells from firing. Ice is also not recommended. What research has shown to work best to remove the remaining stinging cells is to douse the area in vinegar, as the acid inactivates the nematocysts, thus stopping the venom. Then, put heat on the affected area and take antihistamine, an after-sting product, or hydrocortisone.

Karl Pilkington, English author and comedian, didn’t mince words on the value of these watery wonders, penning this poem:

“I don’t like jellyfish, they’re not a fish, they’re just a blob. They don’t have eyes, fins or scales like a cod. They float about blind, stinging people in the seas, And no one eats jellyfish with chips and mushy peas.”

Jellyfish, not surprisingly, have few allies. That Tisbury grandmother is definitely among their detractors, so afraid of them that she is ready to take any action, no matter how extreme. To that well-meaning grandmother, I suggest keeping her pants on and bringing a bottle of vinegar to the beach.

Suzan Bellincampi is director of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown, and author of Martha’s Vineyard: A Field Guide to Island Nature.