Ah, summer in Bermuda, a time for all sorts of outdoor activities, from swimming off our shores and playing in our parks to beaching, boating and biking. Being exposed to nature can also expose you to some of its hazards. Here is a survival guide to staying safe while still having fun this summer.
STEPPING ON A SEA URCHIN
Sea urchins are invertebrates with a globular body and spines protruding outward from the entire body. They live on the ocean floor, sometimes embedded in reefs and rocks. Some species have poison in their spines that cause pain and muscle spasms after piercing the skin; more seriously, breathing problems can occur.
What to do
Use tweezers, if available, to remove any protruding spines in the wound.
Apply vinegar to the area,best done using a vinegar-soaked cloth or towel. The vinegar will help alleviate the pain.
Immerse the puncture in water as hot as can be tolerated for 20 to 40 minutes.
Vinegar application can be repeated if pain is still present, or an antibiotic cream, such as Polysporin or Neosporin, can be applied. There are some suggestions that applying a vinegar wrap secured by tape to the foot and left on overnight will greatly reduce pain and any further swelling on the following day.
Seek immediate medical treatment if there are any changes in heart rate, any difficulties breathing or any signs that the foot may be infected.
What not to do
Do not dig at any spines left in the skin. They will dissolve on their own with vinegar application and repeated soakings. Cutting at or piercing the area with a pin or other sharp object only increases your chances of developing an infection.
Lindo’s pharmacist Rebecca White earned her bachelor of science in pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 16 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.