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What To Do If You Get a Sea Urchin in Your Foot

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

One of the many dangers of surfing is the wildlife, and one of those wildlife being the spiny shellfish: sea urchins.


Sea urchins or wana in Hawaiian are usually found in intertidal zones to some of the deepest areas of the ocean stuck to rocks and reefs.


They are prevalent in coastal areas all around the world and pose a danger to anyone walking barefoot in the ocean or in tidepools.


There are 950 species of sea urchins in the ocean, so it’s almost impossible by looking at a sea urchin to tell what type has stung you — and if you’re in any immediate danger.

It usually goes as follows — a surfer or swimmer will try to stand up on a shallow reef and lightly graze their feet upon a sea urchin's spines and the urchin's spines are released into their foot.


It’s important to treat a sea urchin sting in your foot as quickly as possible to avoid infection.


If you’ve found yourself with a sea urchin in your foot, here's what to do.



What To Do When You Get A Sea Urchin in Your Foot

So, what happens if you get a sea urchin in your foot? Here's what to do step by step.


Step 1: Immediately soak the affected area with warm water and vinegar. The vinegar allows some of the spines to dissolve or loosen.

Step 2: After you’ve let the affected area soak and skin soften try to pluck out some of the sea urchin spines out of your foot with tweezers.


Step 3: If you start to feel any serious symptoms like fatigue or the loss of feeling then immediately seek medical attention.


Step 4: Continue to monitor the sting for infection, leave it open, and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain.


Step 5: As time goes on, continue to flush the sting out with soap and water and take out spines that are lodged deep within the skin.



Sea Urchin Sting FAQs

Next, we’ll answer the most commonly asked questions associated with a sea urchin sting.


Do sea urchin spines need to be removed?

It’s important to remove spines as quickly as possible because they could travel into deeper tissue and cause muscle and joint pain.


Can A Sea Urchin Sting Through a Wetsuit?

Yes they can easily sting through wetsuits and water shoes.


Is it OK to leave sea urchin spines in your foot?

No, it's not ok to leave sea urchin spines in your foot. Remove spines in your foot as fast as you can and if you are unable to get to some spines then go to a medical professional to remove them.


Do sea urchin spines dissolve over time?

With the aid of warm water and vinegar most sea urchin spines left in the foot will dissolve over time.



The Bottom Line: Sea Urchin in Foot

Getting a sea urchin sting in your foot is no fun.


Not only does it hurt ... but it cuts a session short and keeps you from surfing for a bit.


If you do find yourself with a sea urchin sting in your foot then remember to treat it properly so you can get back out to the water as quickly as possible.


If you have any concerns or questions as to if the sea urchin that stung you is venomous, seek out a medical professional for treatment.

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