Understanding Skin Injuries Caused by Sea Urchin Encounters

Spine Injury

Sea urchin injuries may not be common news, but for those involved in seaside activities, they represent a real danger. A recent publication by the Medical University of South Carolina has brought to light the myriad complications that can arise when people come into contact with these spiny marine creatures, particularly when spines break off in the skin and are not quickly removed. Complications can include pain, infection, granulomas, and even severe joint issues like arthritis.

Sea urchins, while playing a significant role in maintaining reef ecosystems, can cause unintentional harm to humans. Encounters with sea urchin spines occur frequently among individuals engaging with marine environments – divers, snorkelers, and surfers among the most affected. Sea urchin spines, composed of calcite crystals, are known for their brittleness, which makes them prone to sticking into and breaking off in human skin. Venomous species can elicit serious systemic reactions due to the toxins found in some spines.

Injuries usually affect the lower extremities and hands, as a result of walking on the sea floor or handling the creatures. Diagnosing these injuries can prove challenging, since patients are not always aware of the spines embedded in their skin. However, techniques like dermoscopy, radiography, magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasonography can assist in detection and assessing the extent of the damage.

Source: MDedge

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