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Sea Urchin Stings

By

Robert A. Barish

, MD, MBA, University of Illinois at Chicago;


Thomas Arnold

, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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Topic Resources

Sea urchins are covered with long, sharp, sometimes venom-coated spines. Touching or stepping on these spines typically causes a painful puncture wound. The spines commonly break off in the skin and cause chronic pain and inflammation if not removed. Joint and muscle pain and rashes may develop.

Sea urchin spines should be removed immediately. Because vinegar dissolves most sea urchin spines, several vinegar soaks or compresses may be all that is needed to remove spines that have not penetrated deeply. Surgical removal may be required for imbedded spines. (X-ray imaging is usually not necessary before surgery, but it may be required if the doctor suspects but is uncertain that there are imbedded spines.) Soaking the injured body part in hot water often relieves the pain.

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Test your knowledge
Electrical Injuries
Electric currents can cause injuries when they pass through the body. They can burn internal organs and tissues. They can disrupt normal electrical processes such as heart rhythms or nerve impulses. Contact with which of the following electric current sources poses the greatest danger?
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