Coral Cuts: Symptoms, When to Seek Medical Care and Treatment

Coral cuts are skin abrasions or

lacerations,usually on the extremities, resulting from direct contact with corals.These typically accidental contacts are prone to infection due to the nature of sea water, which contains many pathogens, regardless of the size of the wound. Moreover, some corals can be toxic and may contain

nematocysts which can produce a stinging pain that may lead to more substantial damage.

Corals are the hard exoskeleton secreted by different types of coral organisms, also called polyps. They usually appear very colorful but can be very sharp. Coral reefs are usually home diverse species of marine animals but are generally located in tropical and subtropical waters.

Symptoms of Coral Cuts

Symptoms of coral cuts are similar to those of any other cuts. The main

difference is that wounds acquired in the ocean are more prone to infection. Some of the common symptoms of coral cuts are the following:

  • Abrasion or laceration
  • Bleeding
  • Itching
  • Burning sensation
  • Swelling and redness around the cut, which may spread across the skin
  • Tenderness
  • Inflammation
  • May progress into a sore or ulcer with infectious drainage

When to Seek Medical Care Regarding Coral Cuts

Coral cuts are not unusual and can be treated at home, however, there are

times it may be necessary to seek medical attention. If any of the following symptoms begin to show, seek medical attention immediately.

  • Severe or large and deep cuts
  • Signs of infection, which may include some or all of the following
    • Pus discharge, which may be foul-smelling and can range in colors
    • Skin surrounding the wound is red, warm and swollen
    • Increasing pain
    • Red streaking of the skin from the wound
    • Fever
  • Blisters, especially if the person is an alcoholic
  • Expanding infection (cellulitis)

First Aid Treatment for Coral Cut

First Aid for Coral Cuts

First Aid for Coral Cuts

Apply first aid for coral cuts as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary

complications. The following steps are hints in case this situation arises. However, these should not be taken as medical advice or be substituted for first aid training. To learn more about how to treat marine-related injuries, enroll in First Aid Training to learn how to properly treat wounds.

  • Get out of the water immediately.
  • Control bleeding by applying direct pressure on the wound using a dry, clean cloth or sterile gauze.
  • Once the bleeding has stopped, thoroughly scrub the wound with water and soap. Rinse extensively with fresh water
  • If there is a stinging pain, flush the wound with vinegar or isopropyl alcohol to minimize pain.
  • Rinse the wound with a mixture of ½ hydrogen peroxide and ½ water to get rid ofcoral dust then rinse with fresh water.
  • Repeat this same process every day. Apply topical antibiotic ointment three to four times a day.
  • Take oral antibiotics to avoid infection.
  • If there is no open wound and just itching, over-the-counter steroid ointment to ease itching symptoms.

Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve of pain from coral cuts.