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Treating a Sea Urchin Sting

Updated on March 26, 2013
Sea urchins are beatiful to look at, but their spines can be quite painful.
Sea urchins are beatiful to look at, but their spines can be quite painful. | Source

Divers and snorklers are well aware sea urchins and their stings. But anyone can get stung by one of these creatures. Sea urchins may have round or flat bodies, and they all have spines. They live in shallow, rocky areas and love to hide in the crevices. Stepping on one is usually accidental, but getting stung by one in other parts of the body may be intentional as the humans are trying to catch them. Sea urchins inject a negligible amount of venum which is produced in the pedicellaria glands and deliverd by the spines once they puncture the skin.


Symptoms from a single sea urchin sting tend to be mild and can be treated at home. Single stings produces swelling, redness, and possible infection around the sting site, and they can be painful. A single sea urchin sting by is generally not a problem, but mulitple stings delivered simultaneously can cause reactions like severe muscle spasms, respiratory distress, weakness, shock, paralysis, and possibly death.


Multiple stings with sever reactions require medical treatment at an emergency room. Single stings, on the other hand, can generally be treated at home.

  1. Remove Any Visible Spines; it’s essential to the healing process. Use a pair of tweezers and pull them out quickly. Purple or black marks from dye injected by the sea urchin will be absorbed within 48 hours. If there is still black markings after about 72 hours, there may still be imbedded spines that need to be removed.
  2. Soak the Area with Vinegar soaked cloths. Vinegar helps to dissolve the spine but don’t do much to relieve the pain.
  3. Clean the Wound with antibacterial soap to clean out any sand and debris.
  4. Soak in Hot Water for 30 to 90 minutes. The water should be as hot as the person can stand. The heat will ease the pain at the sting site and flush out the wound.
  5. Apply Antibiotic Ointment to prevent infection from forming and cover the sting site.
  6. Give Pain Relievers like acetamenophen every 4 hours or ibuprofen every 6 to 8 hours.
  7. Take Vitamin D Supplements which will help the body absorb any small pieces of the calcium-based spines that may be left behind in the wound.

A Word of Note:

Seek medical care if:

  • Pain becomes severe.
  • Blackend area continues for more thatn 72 hours.
  • Infection develops or the wound starts draining pus.
  • If the wound site turns red or feels hot to the touch.
  • Skin rash develops.
  • You have persistent swelling of the fingers as the result of a hand sting.
  • Spines enter into or near a joing.


Wikihow. How to Treat a Sea Urchin Sting.

eMedicine. Dive Medicine: Sea Urchin Puncture Wound.

Divers Alert Network. Sea Urchin Spine Punctures.

Free MD. Sea Urchin Sting Symptoms.

How to Deal with Sea Urchin Stings

.Student paralyzed after sea urchin sting .


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