It is a known fact that sea urchins are interesting creatures that thrive on the ocean floor under shallow water. Even though these creatures are fun to look at, it is important not to touch or move them. Unluckily, there are cases in which individuals accidentally steps on or brushes against a sea urchin. Once this occurs, the sea urchin will protect itself with the help of its pointed spines that usually contain venom. It can lead to an instant pricking sensation or a painful reaction that can occur 30 minutes after contact.
When spending time at the beach, it is important to watch out for sea urchins. If you are not careful, you might accidentally step on one or get scratched by its spines.
Steps on treating a sea urchin wound
You have to perform these first aid measures if an individual sustains a wound from a sea urchin.
- If an individual sustains a wound from a sea urchin, you have to calm him/her. The spines of sea urchins usually contain small amount of venom that can spread all over the body quickly and can worsen if the individual panics. Luckily, the venom is not strong enough to cause more discomfort unless wounded several times.
- Immerse the wound in warm water for about an hour. This will help soften the skin so that removing the spines will be easier and can help control the pain. You have to repeat this process as many times as needed to help minimize the pain.
- With a pair of tweezers or hemostats, you have to carefully remove all the spines that are protruding from the skin. Always bear in mind that the spines of sea urchins are mostly comprised of minerals, thus there is no need to dig out the spines that are deeply embedded. The body will expel or absorb them over time.
- Inspect the surface of the wound for pedicellaria. Take note that pedicellaria are the miniature forceps-shaped outgrowths that are used by sea urchins for cleaning as well as removing parasites. These might get embedded on the skin after contact with a sea urchin. You have to apply shaving salve to the area and take them out in a gentle manner with the help of a razor.
- The wound must be thoroughly cleaned using an antiseptic.
- After the wound has been cleaned thoroughly, you have to leave the wound uncovered and continue to observe for infection while it heals.
- You can provide acetaminophen of ibuprofen to the individual if needed for pain relief. Just make sure that you will follow the right dosage instructions or those given by the doctor.
When to consult a doctor
It is best to schedule an appointment with the doctor if the spine of the sea urchin is deeply embedded into a joint or if the individual experiences chest pain or difficulty breathing.