Preventing & Treating Sea Urchin Puncture Injury

Sea urchins are commonly present on shallow rocky area. Although most of them are not venomous, some species of long-spined and fire urchins are. So here are some precautionary steps to avoid urchin sting injury and measures to treat it:  

Long-spined urchins between the coral crevices at Pantai Sawarna, Banten, Indonesia
       Do not walking barefoot on the intertidal shallow rocky area. The long-spined urchins often hide in the rock/ coral crevices.
       Look carefully when exiting the ocean, particularly in areas that are rocky, have coral, or ironshore coral. If an exit is covered with urchins, try to pick an alternate exit to avoid injury.

Sea Urchins Puncture Symptoms
       A puncture injury from a sea urchin can cause swelling and redness around the area, which may lead to severe pain and infection.
       Multiple deep puncture wounds may cause more serious symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, muscle aches, shock, etc.

Sea urchin puncture injury (illustrasion)

       Immerse the affected area for 30-90 minutes in water as hot as the injured person can tolerate. Repeat as necessary to control pain.
       Use tweezers to remove any large spines in the wound.
       The spine near the skin surface can also be removed by gently scrap the skin in the direction of the spine with a razor.
       Then scrub the wound with soap and water followed by extensive flushing with fresh water.
       Do not close the wound with tape or glue skin.
       If signs of infection, such as pus, redness, or heat occur, apply topical antibiotic ointment and call your doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics. If the patient is started on antibiotics, continue to take them until the patient has used the entire course of the medication. Talk to the doctor about antibiotics and sun sensitivity.
      Relieve pain with the recommended doses of acetaminophen (Tylenol) pain relievers every 4 hours and/or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) every 6-8 hours.
Urine Treatment Misconception  

There's a widespread belief that human urine can treat the injury caused by marine animal, including sea urchin. This idea is WRONG! To begin with, the composition of urine, which mainly water and amonia, are not the right chemical to solve the problem. Sea urchin's spines are composed of calcium carbonate which disolved in acid. Urine may contain acid, however not in the required amount to get the job done. On the other hand, vinegar can be even more effective. Vinegar is also known to help neutralize jellyfish sting, while fresh water tend to burn the nematocyst and caused more pain to the victim.

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