Accidentally stepping on a sea urchin can definitely make your summer vacation unforgettable, albeit for the very wrong reason. The fact is sea urchins are not only spiky creatures, but also venomous ones. Most sea urchins are just mildly poisonous, leaving you in a great deal of pain. However, there are also those that can cause nausea, heart palpitations, breathing difficulty and panic, making your being in water quite dangerous.
The moment that you step on a sea urchin, do not lose control of yourself. Prior to hitting the beach of your dreams, read on. Below you will find the steps you need to take in case you fall victim to a sea urchin.
Get Out of the Water
What you need to do as soon as you accidentally step on this thorny sea dweller is to get yourself to safety — on the shore. That’s because the problem may lead to some very serious ones in the water. This is especially true if the involved sea urchin is the really poisonous kind that can cause all sorts of unfavorable symptoms.
Remove the Spikes Very Quickly
Did you know that the spikes of sea urchins release venom? It’s exactly for this reason why it is a good idea for you to have them removed as soon as possible. The best way to deal with them is with the use of a pair of tweezers. Grasping the end of the spine, slowly pull it out to prevent it from breaking.
Get Rid of the Pedicellariae
In between the spikes of a sea urchin are the so-called pedicellariae (singular: pedicellaria), which are tiny organs that grasp your skin. Also, they release venom. Fortunately, it’s so much easier to remove those pedicellariae than the spikes. Such can be done by shaving them off with a razor. If available, apply shaving cream liberally beforehand.
Disinfect the Area
Once both the spikes and pedicellariae are out of the picture, it’s time to disinfect the affected area to remove any trace of venom as well as to keep an infection from striking. Wash your foot with soap and water. If that’s not possible, you may douse the affected area with rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or povidone iodine.
Immerse in Hot Water or Vinegar
If it feels like there’s a small fragment of a spike remaining in place, soak your foot in a basin filled with hot water for several minutes. Make sure that the temperature is tolerable and not scalding. Some people swear by the effectiveness of immersing the affected area in vinegar in making any remaining part of the spike eliminated.
Let Vinegar Do the Trick Overnight
Does it seem like the hot water or vinegar soak failed to get rid of the remaining spike? Worry not because there’s a solution: soak clean gauze in vinegar, fold neatly and place on the affected area. Secure with saran wrap, but make sure that it’s not too tight. Leave it there as you sleep and carefully remove the following day.
Apply Antibacterial Ointment
Whether step number 6 is necessary or not, you should liberally apply antibiotic ointment on the affected area. This will help stave off an infection as the site heals on its own. While still healing, you may take your trusted over-the-counter painkiller. Doing so will help lessen the pain associated with an accident involving sea urchins.
These are the steps that you should take when you accidentally step on a sea urchin. Remember to keep observing the affected area as it heals. If it remains red and inflamed and pus is present, it’s a good idea to immediately seek medical attention by going to the ER.