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Sea Urchin treatment (got stung)

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by Technodynamic, Jun 14, 2004.

  1. Technodynamic

    Technodynamic Garibaldi

    Hello, new to these boards. I found this forum and figured it was the best place to ask (gotta love the internet).

    While in Carriacou I was wadling in water about 5 feet deep, roughly 20 yards out when a small wave pushed me a few feet from my location. My curious foot felt its way back to the ground only to land right on top of a sea urchin. I didn't see it, but after the initial sharp pain (thought I stabbed my foot in sharp shells) I started to swim back to shore. Before I even got to the shore I realized that there was a sting associated with it and I had stepped on something. When I looked I had 28 little black dots peppered all along my right foot. This urchin hit the jackpot on me. The local boat crew said it would go away in time, that I could pee on it, soak it in sweet water (regular tap water), and one guy saaid to smoke a cig and put the hot tip on the wounds for a second to kill the tips that are still in the skin. I chose to suck it up and do nothing until later when I got home I soaked it in water for awhile which did nothing. It hurt bad for 15 minutes, had some mild sting for about 2 hours and then was just a pain to walk on form then on.

    Now, 3 days later I can walk around, but I am still hobbling around with 28 black dots still in my foot, I tried using tweezers but I was unable to get a single one out. The pain while walking is decresing slowly and steadly, but at this rate it will take a week and a half to be normal, and even then I don't know if the black dots will be gone.

    Should I bother waiting or sould I just see a doc? No other symptoms of anything. The black dots have a little purplish color around them. They don't hurt unless pressure is put on them, then it feels like a bruise with a splinter in it.

  2. Knavey

    Knavey ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Tampa Florida USA
    Go see a doc now. The danger of infection is too great a risk to wait. My wife had an encounter with a sea urchin on her first OW dive...17 spines and a trip to the docs office. They will put you on antibiotics among other things. They were digging the spines out like splinters, and giving her a shot of local antisthetic at each punture point, but the pain from the shots was worse than them digging so she just told them to dig them out.

    I would not delay getting treatment. Infection could cause problems in the future that you do NOT want to deal with.
  3. Scubakevdm

    Scubakevdm ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, but folks around here just leave the barbs in.
  4. Mako Mark

    Mako Mark Dive Charter

    I have found two different local remedies.

    The first is thai, and involves putting lime juice (to disolve the spines) and a rock (to smash the spines into smallter lumps.

    I DO NOT recommend this.

    the second is Fijian:

    Take ripe papaya (or kiwifruit if no papaya is available) and place on the effected area for about 20-30 minutes. The meat tenderizing enzymes in these fruit will soften the skin so much in that time that the spines can be removed with tweezers or a needle.

    I DO recommend this technique.

    Whatever you do, get some local antibiotic powder or ointment to aviod the infection that Knavey mentioned.
  5. hdtran

    hdtran Geography Police

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: New Mexico
    Merck's manual writes that heat inactivates toxins (though only a minority of sea urchins carry venom in their spines), so you should also consider a hot water soak for 30 minutes in water as hot as you can tolerate without burning yourself.

    Best of luck, and consider Aquasocks (or similar generic waterproof beach footwear)!
  6. aquaoren

    aquaoren Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives:
    Location: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
    The spines are foreign bodies that are causing a local inflamation that you feel.
    You have 2 choices:
    1) Visit a doc, get them removed and if you'll take the antibiotics they'll prescribe you and there will be no further complication, in couple of days it will be only a bad memory
    2) Listen to all kind of grandma's healing receipies (no pun intended), leave them in place and wait until the body will heal itself, which may take couple of weeks if there will be no complications.

    If they are burried deep, than a superficial antibiotic powder or ointment would most likely not do it.
    IMHO make a smart choice and visit a doc
  7. mania

    mania Cousin Itt ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Warsaw, Poland
    It also happened to me once. Unfortunately there was no doctor around so I had to solve the problem by myself. The Mediterranean sea urchins have toxins so I had to get rid of it all. It took me an hour, sharp needle and....a bottle of whiskey (used both - internally and externally). I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS TREATMENT

    Two days later I went to see a doc - and he said it's good I took is out. But for the next time - he said - see the doctor immediately because of two reasons - one mentioned already - inflammation and the second - traces of toxin could cause also a strong allergic reaction.

    So go to the doctor

  8. miketsp

    miketsp Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: São Paulo, Brazil
    Some comments about Sea Urchins:

    Seek immediate medical care if any breathing problems develop.
    CPR may be required.

    Spines that penetrate at or near a joint usually require surgical removal. Seek the care of a physician if you feel spines have been retained in the hand or foot, or near a joint. They may need to be removed surgically, to minimize infection, inflammation, and damage to nerves or important blood vessels.

    Use tweezers to remove any accessible spines in the wound.
    Carefully remove any readily visible spines. Do not dig around in the skin to fish them out — this risks crushing the spines and making them more difficult to remove. Do not intentionally crush the spines. Purple or black markings in the skin immediately after a sea urchin encounter do not necessarily indicate the presence of a retained spine fragment. Such discoloration is more likely dye leached from the surface of a spine, commonly from a black urchin (Diadema spp.). The dye will be absorbed over 24 to 48 hours, and the discoloration will disappear. If there are still black markings after 48 to 72 hours, then a spine fragment is likely present.

    Immerse the wound in nonscalding hot water as hot as the victim can tolerate (110 to 113° Fahrenheit, or 43.3 to 45° Celsius) for 30-90 minutes. Repeat as necessary to control pain.
    This frequently provides pain relief. Administer appropriate pain medicine.

    After soaking in hot water apply shaving cream and gently scrap with a razor to remove pedicellaria (pincer-like structures which are located on the surface of echinoderms to protect them from small animals or larvae that might settle on the body surface).

    Another method is to apply melted wax to your injury (use caution), allow the wax to set, and then peel it off to remove the tiny spines.

    Scrub the wound with soap and water followed by extensive flushing with fresh water.

    Do not close the wound with tape.

    If signs of infection, such as pus, redness, or heat occur, apply topical antibiotic ointment.

    Oral antibiotics are usually recommended for infection. If infection develops, continue antibiotics for at least 5 days after all signs of infection have cleared. Check for drug allergy prior to starting any antibiotic. Your doctor will recommend the right antibiotic. Some can cause sensitivity to the sun, so use a sunscreen (at least SPF 15).

    Relieve pain with 1-2 tablets of acetaminophen (Tylenol) pain relievers every 4 hours and/or 1-2 ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) every 6-8 hours.

    Some sea urchins are covered with sharp venom-filled spines that can easily penetrate and break off into the skin, or with small pincerlike appendages that grasp the victim and inoculate him with venom from a sac within the pincer. Sea urchin punctures or stings are painful wounds, most often of the hands or feet. If a person receives many wounds simultaneously, the reaction may be so severe as to cause difficulty in breathing, weakness, and collapse.

    If the wound shows signs of infection (extreme redness, pus, swollen regional lymph glands) or a spine has penetrated deeply into a joint, the victim should be started on an antibiotic to oppose Vibrio bacteria (ciprofloxacin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, or doxycycline).

    If a spine puncture in the palm of the hand results in a persistent swollen finger without any sign of infection (fever, redness, swollen lymph glands in the elbow or armpit), then it may become necessary to treat a 150 pound, or 68 kilogram, victim with a seven-day course of oral prednisone in a tapering dose (begin with 70 milligrams and decrease by 10 milligrams per day). Corticosteroids should always be taken with the understanding that a rare side effect is serious deterioration of the head (“ball” of the ball-and-socket joint) of the femur, the long bone of the thigh.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *
    I am not a doctor and the information provided herein should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. It is provided for your general information and is not a substitute for medical care or supervised medical treatment. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions
  9. Scuba65

    Scuba65 Manta Ray

    Ok..my hubby gets tons of those every yr. while lobstering. he's has become too immune to them. but, on the first time it happened he tried getting them out, and he couldn't, he went to the doctors and they told him to just leave them that they would go away eventually. And yes, they did go away eventually, but it did take a while to get rid off them and now he has scars to prove it.
  10. StueyinDeep

    StueyinDeep Instructor, Scuba

    Impressive post miketsp! Great information.

    Now hold on; here was I about to send a link to DAN's article about Sea-urchins (http://diversalertnetwork.org/medical/faq/faq.asp?faqid=93)
    but seeing it I realise that miketsp has just lifted the entire page and is parading it around as his own work. I don't know about you, mike, but where I come from that's called plagiarism. You should be ashamed of yourself. Cite your references.

    My ankle took a couple of spines once in Thailand and it swelled up to twice normal size yet other times when I took them elsewhere nothing happened....

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