Sea urchins are one of the least hostile animals in the ocean, nonetheless, these spine covered animals are responsible for injuring many swimmers and divers who unintentionally trod on them. Sea urchins have round to flattened shaped bodies that are covered with spines. They dwell in shallow, pebbly bottoms, or in sandy cracks.
The sea urchin has two protection mechanisms to shield itself from predators – one is the spine of the animal that causes the puncture wound and the other is a smaller, delicate seizing organ called pedicellaria that is located in between the spines which gives off a venom when it attaches to something.
A sting from a sea urchin results in redness, swelling and excruciating pain in the area. In certain cases, a severe infection may develop too. Multiple deep punctures can cause weakness, exhaustion, muscle ache, paralysis, shock, and respiratory failure. Death is known to occur as well. It is very vital that you promptly treat a sea urchin puncture so as to ward off all complications.
First Aid And Treatment For Sea Urchin Sting
- Soak the affected area for about an hour in water that is as hot as you can tolerate. This helps relieve the pain appreciably. Repeat the immersing frequently to manage the pain.
- Use tweezers to get rid of large spines in your wound.
- In order to get rid of the pedicellaria, apply shaving cream to the afflicted area and very gently scrape off with a razor.
- Now wash off well with soap and water, followed by a lot of flushing with fresh water.
- Do not close the wound.
- To allay the severe pain, you may need to take an analgesic every 4 to 8 hours; you need to discuss this with your health care provider.
- Apply a topical anti-biotic lotion to manage the inflammation, redness, and to prevent infection.
- Fill a large bowl or bucket with vinegar and warm it. It should not be too hot. Place the affected area in the vinegar and let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes. If the spines are stuck in an area which is difficult to place in a bucket or bowl, soak a wash cloth in the hot vinegar and place over the afflicted area. Vinegar is known to dissolve most sea urchin spines. Sometimes, the vinegar may sting you, in case you cannot tolerate the pain, add some water to the vinegar and then warm it. Now, examine the area for the presence of any small black spots. In case you see black spots, soak again until the spines are gone.
- If there are any signs of infection, – redness, swelling, pus or heat, apply an anti-biotic cream and confer with your physician; he may prescribe an oral antibiotic to manage the infection better. Do not neglect at all. A sting from a sea urchin is known to have lethal consequences. Also, visit your doctor in case the spines have not broken off, or if they are too big to dissolve, or they fail to dissolve fully. Occasionally, the doctor may have to get rid of the spines surgically.