Sea Urchin Injury

ExitCare ImageSea urchins can cause injury when a swimmer or wader comes in contact with their spines. The spine of the urchin breaks off in the skin. The spine often gets stuck in the tissue just beneath the skin (subcutaneous tissue).


  • Swelling, redness, and pain in the injured area.

  • Fatigue.

  • Weakness.

  • Muscle aches.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Numbness.

  • Dizziness.

  • Paralysis.


Your caregiver will remove the spine from your skin. The area should be immersed in hot water to help deactivate the sea urchin venom. Shaving cream may also be applied and the area carefully shaved to remove the small claw-like structures on sea urchins (pedicellaria). The area should then be scrubbed and cleaned with soap and water. Any wounds should be left open and not closed with surgical glue. Antibiotic medicine may be given if there are signs of infection. Occasionally, spines need to be surgically removed. Pain medicine should be taken as directed by your caregiver. The spines of the sea urchin may stain your skin, but this should go away in about 2 days.


  • Keep any bandages (dressings) clean and dry.

  • Change any dressings as told by your caregiver. If the dressing sticks, soak it in warm water. Rinse the wound and pat it dry.

  • Follow up with your caregiver as directed to make sure your wound is healing properly.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

You may need a tetanus shot if:

  • You cannot remember when you had your last tetanus shot.

  • You have never had a tetanus shot.

  • The injury broke your skin.

If you get a tetanus shot, your arm may swell, get red, and feel warm to the touch. This is common and not a problem. If you need a tetanus shot and you choose not to have one, there is a rare chance of getting tetanus. Sickness from tetanus can be serious.


  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing.

  • You notice a bad smell coming from the wound or dressing.

  • You have redness, swelling, or increasing pain in the wound.

  • You see pus coming from the wound.

  • You have a fever.

  • You feel dizzy.

  • You have continued nausea or vomiting.

  • Your pain does not go away.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.