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How Effective Is Your Dive Wetsuit Against Jellyfish Stings?

When it comes to enjoying scuba diving or any watersport, jellyfish stings can be a real buzzkill. Not only are those transparent stingers painful, but they can also cause allergic reactions, leave painful scars, and even lead to hospitalization.

Naturally, as a scuba diver, your first line of defense against the stinging cells of these jellyfish is your wetsuit. But are wetsuits capable enough to brave the stingers of jellyfish on behalf of your skin?

The answer is a resounding yes. Wetsuits are designed to provide a barrier between your skin and the surrounding water, which can prevent jellyfish tentacles from making contact with your skin underneath.

Additionally, some wetsuits are specifically designed with anti-jellyfish properties, such as thicker neoprene around vulnerable areas like the arms and legs.

Be aware that no wetsuit can completely mitigate the chances of getting stung by a jellyfish but wearing one can certainly reduce the risks significantly. So, if you’re someone who loves water sports and wants to enjoy them without the fear of jellyfish stings, investing in a quality wetsuit is a smart move. Don’t let jellyfish ruin your fun – suit up and hit the water with confidence!

How Do Wetsuits Protect Against Jellyfish Stings?

Wetsuits primarily help divers to shield themselves against cold temperatures underwater. However, one of the lesser-known benefits of wearing a wetsuit is its ability to protect against harsh underwater elements like sharp rock edges, debris, and certain small-scale stingers including jellyfish. Jellyfish stings can be painful and, in some cases, even life-threatening. Wearing a wetsuit can act as a barrier between the skin and the jellyfish’s tentacles, reducing the risk of getting stung.

The neoprene material of the wetsuit is thick enough to prevent the jellyfish’s stinging cells from penetrating through to the skin. Additionally, the snug fit of your wetsuit prevents the sloppy jellyfish from slipping through and getting trapped inside your suit as well.

Therefore, if you plan to swim or dive in an area known for jellyfish, wearing a thick and snug-fitting wetsuit is a wise choice. But keep in mind that wetsuits don’t cover the entirety of your body and you are still at risk of getting stung on your exposed hands, feet, and head. So consider investing in proper dive booties, gloves, and hoods for added protection.

Proper Dive Booties can not only make you invulnerable against jellyfish but they can also offer a degree of protection against coarse rocks, coral reefs, and even Sting rays in some cases.

What Attracts Jellyfish Toward Divers? Tips on What to Avoid to Keep Jellyfish Away

Jellyfish are attracted to divers for a variety of reasons, some of which are:

  • Your Flashlight: Many species of jellyfish perceive and react to light stimuli, hence, your diving flashlights might draw them in especially during night dives.
  • Movement: The movement of your fins and bubbles can attract jellyfish because they mistake you for their prey. This is especially true for species that feed on plankton and other small organisms.
  • Temperature: Some species of jellyfish are attracted to warm water, and your body heat can draw them in.
  • The Smell: Certain types of jellyfish are attracted to the scent of other marine life, and if you have been in the vicinity of certain small fishes, plankton, or other sea creatures and latched onto their stench you will inadvertently attract jellyfish.
  • Colors: Although research shows Jellyfishes are only able to see the colors black and white they can also perceive contrast, and divers wearing wetsuits with high contrast or color variation or gear may draw them in.
  • Sound: While not as common, some species of jellyfish are attracted to sound and vibrations in the water, such as those created by divers’ equipment.

It’s important to note that not all jellyfish are attracted to the same things, and the factors that draw them in can vary depending on the species. You should research the area you will be diving in and take appropriate precautions to avoid attracting jellyfish.

One Thing to Keep in Mind- Not All Jellyfishes Sting

There are many different species of jellyfish, and not all of them can sting. Here are some of the most common jellyfish species that can sting and how to identify them:

  1. Box jellyfish: Box jellyfish are one of the most dangerous jellyfish species and are found in the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They have a cube-shaped bell and long, thin tentacles that can cause severe stings.
  2. Portuguese Man o’ War: The Portuguese Man o’ War is not a jellyfish, but a colony of organisms working together. They have a distinctive blue or purple color and long, thin tentacles that can cause painful stings.
  3. Sea nettle: Sea nettles are found in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and have a bell-shaped body with long, trailing tentacles. Their stings can cause pain, redness, and swelling.
  4. Lion’s mane jellyfish: Lion’s mane jellyfish are found in the waters of the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans. They have a distinctive golden-brown bell and long, thin tentacles that can cause painful stings.
  5. Irukandji jellyfish: Irukandji jellyfish are found in the waters of Australia and have a small, bell-shaped body and four long tentacles. Their stings can cause severe pain, nausea, and other symptoms.

What Other Measures Can Be Taken to Protect Against Jellyfish Stings?

So you have tightly zipped up your wetsuit but still worrying about jellyfish stingers? Don’t worry. Wetsuits aren’t your only line of defense against jellyfish, there are additional measures you can take.

Use a Barrier Cream

One effective method is to apply a barrier cream or lotion like sunscreen to exposed skin before entering the water. These products create a protective layer between the skin and the jellyfish’s stingers, reducing the risk of a painful sting.

Keep in mind that most sunscreens contain harmful chemical additives that can be harmful to marine life, especially coral reefs. So always look for a sunscreen brand that contains physical sunblocks such as Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide.

Zip up Your Wetsuit Properly

Needless to say, if you want your wetsuit to shield you better against jellyfish stings you have to wear them properly. Make sure that every body part susceptible to jellyfish stings (mostly your limbs and neck region) is protected by the wetsuit neoprene and that the thickness is uniform all over. If you’re having trouble, check out our detailed guide and learn to wear your scuba wetsuit like a pro.

Wear Protective Clothing Inside Your Wetsuit

Another option is to wear protective clothing, such as a rash guard or dive skin, to cover as much skin as possible. There is a wide variety of rash guards available for both men and women that cover all parts of your exposed skin without making you compromise on mobility underwater.

Understanding Jellyfish Habitat and Seasonal Risks

It’s important to be aware of the jellyfish’s habitat and seasonality, avoiding areas where they are known to be present such as shallow waters or areas with a lot of seaweed, and being extra cautious during peak jellyfish season.

If you plan to shore dive an area known for jellyfish presence, check with the local authorities for any warnings about jellyfish sightings or infestations.

Wear a bubble helmet

A bubble helmet is a unique diving helmet that creates a bubble of air around your head. This can prevent jellyfish from coming into contact with your face and neck.

Use Jellyfish Repellant

Believe it or not. These repellents work, and that too without causing any harm to the marine environment or the jellyfish. Some companies offer jellyfish-repellent sprays or creams in the form of sunscreens or lotions that can be applied to the skin before diving.

Dive During Day

Some species of jellyfish are more active at night, so diving during the day can help reduce the risk of encountering them. Night Diving can also reduce your visibility which can make spotting the transparent jellyfish even more difficult.

Maintain a safe distance from any jellyfish you see while diving. Remember that jellyfish can have long, trailing tentacles that may be difficult to see.

What to Do if You’re Stung by A Jellyfish?

If you happen to get stung by a jellyfish during your dive, act quickly to keep the pain at bay

End Your Dive Session Immediately

This is crucial as you need to stop the venom from spreading as quickly as you can. Signal your dive buddy and end the dive. Don’t lose your focus and above all DON’T ASCEND QUICKLY out of panic: you don’t want to experience the added pain of DCS.

Remove Any Latched Tentacles

The first step after getting out of the water is to remove any tentacles that may still be attached to your skin. You can use tweezers, a credit card, pair of tweezers, or even the edge of a seashell to gently scrape them off. Be careful not to touch the tentacles with bare hands as this can spread the venom and multiply the pain.

Apply Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol on The Affected Area

Avoid using freshwater or rubbing the area, as this can trigger the release of more venom. To alleviate the pain and reduce swelling, you can apply vinegar or a mixture of baking soda and water to the affected area for at least 30 seconds.

For the love of God DO NOT take the anecdotal experience of your dive buddy and urinate on the affected area. There is absolutely no evidence of this voodoo magic cure working. On the contrary, the pee (yes, I am speaking from first-hand experience) actually worsens the pain tenfold.

Visit a Dive Doctor

If the jellyfish sting causes significant pain or other symptoms, seek medical attention from a dive doctor as soon as possible. Some jellyfish stings can cause serious allergic reactions, and a dive doctor can provide appropriate treatment and medications if needed.

Additionally, if you experience any unusual symptoms after the sting, such as fever, muscle aches, or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Take painkillers

You may take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage the discomfort. The stinging pain usually goes away after 2-3 hours.

Do Jellyfish Stings Leave Visible Scars?

The ugly aftermath of jellyfish stings is not the pain but the nasty scars they leave behind that can last anywhere from several weeks or even months.

The severity of the scar depends on the severity of the sting. Mild stings may only leave a small red mark that fades within a few days. More severe stings, however, can leave behind a larger, more noticeable scar.

But what about the permanence of the scars? Fortunately, in most cases, jellyfish sting scars are not permanent. They will eventually fade over time and disappear completely. However, in some cases, the scars may be more stubborn and take longer to fade.


Even with a wetsuit, it is still possible to get stung if the jellyfish comes into contact with exposed skin or areas where the wetsuit is not snugly fitted. Therefore, it is important to take additional precautions when diving in areas where jellyfish are known to be present. This may include wearing protective clothing, such as a full-body stinger suit, or avoiding swimming during peak jellyfish season.

While wetsuits may provide some level of protection, it is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to potentially dangerous marine creatures. By taking the necessary precautions and being prepared, you can safely enjoy swimming in the ocean without the fear of jellyfish stings.

William Dupre

William Dupre

Retired Master Diver with 20+ years of experience and 2100+ logged dives. Presently, spending my time blogging about Diving and checking off locations one by one from my bucket list of dive destinations.