Whether you step on it accidentally or handle it carelessly, you could get stung by a sea urchin's spines. Sea urchins are poisonous animals so prompt and proper treatment is important. In the event of a sting from a sea urchin, stay calm and follow these protocols to avoid serious infection.
Part 1 of 3: Removing the Stabbing Thorns
Step 1. Identify a sea urchin sting
To treat a sea urchin sting, you have to make sure that you have been stung by a sea urchin, not another sea animal.
- Sea urchins have a flat or round body and the entire surface is covered with spines. These animals are found in the oceans around the world, but are more common in warmer climates.
- Sea urchins hide in rocky parts of the water and will sting if threatened. Most people get stung when they step on a sea urchin by accident.
- You can handle most sea urchin stings on your own. However, if you experience difficulty breathing, nausea, chest pain or signs of infection such as redness and pus, you should seek medical attention immediately.
- You should also seek medical attention if you have been stung around the joint, as in these cases the spines may have to be surgically removed.
Step 2. Know which parts are toxic
Sea urchins are round, flattened animals. While generally not aggressive, sea urchins will sting if they are accidentally stepped on. Certain parts of the sea urchin secrete poison.
- Sea urchins secrete toxins through their spines and pediselaria.
- The spines produce stab wounds and can remain in the skin. These spines must be removed immediately after being stung.
- The pediselaria are the attacking organs that sit between the spines attached to the target when a sea urchin is attacked. This organ should also be removed immediately after being stung.
Step 3. Remove the spikes
Once stung, remove the piercing spikes as quickly as possible to minimize your body's exposure to the venom.
- Use tweezers to pull out the protruding ends of the large spikes. Move slowly so that the thorn doesn't break as medical treatment will be required if that happens.
- Hot wax can also be used if the burr goes deep enough and cannot be removed with a razor. Apply hot wax to the stung area, let it dry and then remove it. Usually the thorns will be pulled out along with the wax.
Long-term health problems can occur if the sea urchin spines are not removed properly. If you're not sure if you've removed all the sea urchin spines from your body, see a doctor.
Step 4. Get rid of pediselaria
Pediselaria must be removed from your body as soon as possible to prevent exposure to toxins.
- Pediselaria can be removed by applying shaving cream to the infected area and then scraping it out with a razor.
- Scrape the thorns with a razor gently so as not to cause more problems with the wound.
Part 2 of 3: Washing the Infected Area
Step 1. Clean the wound with soap and water
Immediately after removing the spines and pediselaria, you should clean and rinse the wound.
- This step will be painful because your wound is still sore and will sting to the touch. Be prepared to deal with the pain or ask someone to help you if you're afraid you won't be able to endure the pain.
- You can also use hydrogen peroxide or betadine solution instead of soap.
- Rinse the stung area thoroughly with clean drinking water after washing it.
Step 2. Don't cover the wound
Bandages and plasters should not be used to cover sea urchin puncture wounds. The burrows that are not removed with tweezers must come out of the skin on their own to avoid bacterial infection and the toxic effects of the sea urchin.
Step 3. Soak the wound
To treat pain and minimize the chance of infection, some people soak their wounds after the initial cleansing.
- You can soak the wound in hot water. The water should be hot to the touch, but not boiling. Soak the wound in water for at least an hour or as long as you can withstand the heat from the water. This will help reduce pain and destroy any remaining thorns. You can add Epsom salt or a magnesium sulfate compound to the water to help with this process.
- A number of people have tried a hot vinegar bath. Mix a little vinegar in a bath of hot water and soak the wound in it for 20 to 40 minutes. You can also add Epsom salt to the water as it will help loosen any thorns that are left behind.
Part 3 of 3: Treating Wounds and Pain
Step 1. Treat the wound before going to bed
Before going to bed, you should cover the wound a little so as not to irritate it all night long.
- Place a cloth soaked in vinegar over the wound and cover it with plastic wrap.
- Even so, keep your wound dressing loose. Remember, you can't completely close the wound because any remaining thorns will have to come out of it.
Step 2. Take antibiotics and painkillers
To keep the infection away and treat any lingering pain, antibiotics and over-the-counter pain relievers should be taken as directed.
- Topical antibiotic ointment, available at most drugstores and supermarkets, should be applied to the wound. Although usually done as a precaution, this step is especially important if you notice any redness or swelling.
- Tylenol and ibuprofen are great options for pain control. You should take it at the recommended dose every four to eight hours until the symptoms subside.
Step 3. Watch for signs of infection
Although wounds from sea urchins usually heal well if properly cared for, sea urchins are poisonous. Know the signs of infection.
- Signs of infection include redness, pus, swelling in the affected area or in the lymph nodes draining the infected area (neck, armpit or groin), or heat.
- Seek medical care if signs of infection do not subside within a few days.
- If you have breathing problems or chest pain, the infection may be severe and you should go to the nearest emergency room.
- Soaking the tweezers in hot water to sterilize them before use is a good idea. Or you can also wipe it thoroughly using alcohol on a cotton ball or cotton ball.
- It's a good idea to have a friend or loved one help out when removing the thorn and cleaning the wound. The pain from this process can be very severe and it may be difficult for you to take care of yourself.
- To avoid getting stung if you accidentally step on a sea urchin, wear water shoes when you swim in an area where you know there are a lot of sea urchins.
- If a burr enters near a joint, you may need surgical removal. Consult a doctor instead of trying to deal with the situation alone.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you have multiple stab wounds. Also, seek help immediately if you experience any signs of a serious allergic reaction: breathing problems, chest pain, hives, skin redness or swelling of the lips or tongue.