Spend enough time hunting down waves wherever you can find them and eventually, you’ll come across an urchin who decides to plant a few spines in your foot. Quite often, the wound looks like nothing more than a splinter or a new dot buried in your skin. Or, if you get it bad like I did once in South Africa, it will look like a cluster of black dots. Either way, it won’t always be so obvious that the pain and the wounds are the results of a sea urchin sting, with the spines buried deep enough in your skin that getting them out isn’t an easy task.
So, what should you do?
–You’ll need to get a bowl of warm to hot water (don’t burn yourself) and soak your foot. You can add vinegar to help dissolve spikes and loosen the skin.
–After the skin has had time to loosen and soften, use tweezers to remove any spikes.
–If tweezers don’t work, you may need to use a splinter probe. If you’re traveling and don’t have one, sterilize a needle from a first aid kit by boiling water or heating it until it is red hot. Next, use an alcohol wipe to remove any black char.
–Use the needle or probe to dig around and open up the foot so that all spikes are exposed, you may have to imagine digging and scratching at it until it is more easily removed (ouch, get a mate).
–Make sure you use a light (like the one on this multitool) to check closely that nothing is left in your foot.
–Urchin’s produce a venom so make sure you check what types of urchins you have in your local area. Some urchins can be really nasty and require medical attention. If you don’t treat the sting properly, it’s possible you can get an infection.
–Take anti-inflammatories for pain and keep the wound clean to avoid further infection (you can always cover it with Non-woven adhesive tape)
Tip: Keep the site moist. As it dries out, it will tighten and become painful. This may also help any remaining spikes make their way to the surface overnight.
You need your feet to surf. An infected and poorly-treated urchin wound will keep you out of the water while it’s pumping, so it’s always better to get them out before they break off more or bury deeper down.