Ouch! But when it happened I just thought I kicked a sea shell. When I looked down the tip of my big toe was bleeding. Thankfully I was on land rather than swimming with sharks.
I had 5 purple urchin spine tips in my toe. They all came out easily but one … it figures!
I poked at it once I got it home with tools from the kid’s science equipment and some peroxide. It won’t come out.
My husband said when his dad stepped on a sea urchin the doctor told him that whatever was left in his foot would eventually dissolve. He was ok with that. I’m not. Do I turn into an echinoderm? Do I turn purple? Do I have to eat seaweed the rest of my life? Actually, that wouldn’t be so bad, ’cause it’s tasty.
I did a Google search and found out the doctor was right. So here is what you should do if you step on a sea urchin.
Don’t panic! I didn’t. It’s not so bad. It hurt, and I know my kids would freak if it happened to them, but its not so bad.
Use a tweezer to get the spines out. The one’s I got out had broken off above the skin so I was able to pull them out. You can gently squeeze the sides of the spine with your thumb nails, too.
Be aware … the spines are made of calcium carbonate and they’ll crumble and stick in your skin. (I guess I got my dose of calcium today!)
As soon as you can apply an antiseptic. Soak the affected area in a bucket of very warm water with Epsom Salts. Do this several times a day for the duration of the injury. This helps with the pain and softens the skin for spine removal. It may even encourage the spines to either dissolve or be expelled. Apply an antibiotic ointment. If your injury is really painful, take some pain killers (like Goody’s Powder…my favorite because it works so quickly), and elevate the wound.
It could take several weeks for the spines to expell themselves from your skin. Your body may have a hard lump around the injured area, because as it heals, skin cells are reacting to having the foreign object in your body. It will go away.
If the area gets infected go see a doctor.
And last, if there is any purple dye in your foot, don’t worry. That will go away, too.
I also saw a webblog where someone had used duct tape on the injury for several days and the spines eventually surfaced. I’m opting to treat my injury using the above rather that duct tape. But good for him that it worked.
I’m going to Sear’s tomorrow and purchase some water shoes at Land’s End. I’ve been thinking I should have some anyway. It is a nasty feeling walking around sea grasses off South Lido Beach, but we love going over there looking for critters for the fish tank.
Today we got 2 shrimp, 2 purple long-spined urchins (I’ve never seen these before and they’re not in my Florida Beaches book), another hermit crab in a fig shell, an apple murex snail and lots of shells and seaweed.
I’ll let you know when this sea urchin spine falls out.
Edited March 24: Ok, so its been a month now. I haven’t turned purple and spiny so I’m relieved at that. I did lose a little bit of the spine that was really stuck. I think there’s more to come. The tip of my toe remains a little pointy where the spine is. There’s a tiny piece of scar tissue but I pick it off. I also still have a scab where I plucked the other spines out; I guess they’ll go away soon. So, what I’ve learned is…be careful around sea urchins. I’ve also learned that a lot of people step on or trip over them as well. This is my top post and is visited daily by a ton of people. There’s a fishing forum in west Florida that included my post on their site and a lot of referrals come from there (most likely to read about the stupid lady that wasn’t careful on the beach), but many many people just search “how to get sea urchins out of my foot”. Makes me feel not-so-stupid after all. LOL. By the way, we still have the white hermit crab in the fig shell. You can read about his adventures in my post “Salt Water Fish Tank part 5”.