Sea sponge irritation

Sea sponge irritation occurs by insertion of the spicules or sensitivity or allergic response to its waste products.

Sea sponges are invertebrates that possess a permeable skeleton that includes spicules. They grow on stones, shells or other hard objects on the ocean floor.

What are the signs of sea sponge irritation?

  • An itchy or stinging, prickly sensation is felt initially.
  • This is followed by burning sensation, blister formation, pain, swollen joints and intense itchiness.
  • If a wide exposure to certain sponges occurs, the individual might end up with fever, chills, muscle cramping, dizziness and nausea. In severe cases, erythema multiforme might develop which is a skin condition that requires medical attention.
    Sea sponge irritation

    After the primary treatment, hydrocortisone cream can be applied 2 times daily to lessen the itchiness if skin inflammation is present.

Management

The initial step is to carefully dry the affected area. Any spicules from the skin must be removed using an adhesive tape, facial peeling product or rubber cement.

  • The affected site must be soaked in acetic acid for 10-30 minutes, at least 4 times throughout the day. In case vinegar is not available, isopropyl alcohol is an alternative.
  • After the primary treatment, hydrocortisone cream can be applied 2 times daily to lessen the itchiness if skin inflammation is present. If any signs of infection manifest, stop using the cream.
  • The itchiness can be managed with diphenhydramine and ranitidine.
  • If there are signs of infection such as warmth, redness, drainage of pus, increasing pain or fever, a doctor must be seen. Antibiotics are generally given in such cases.

Remember that even the dried sponges that were not processed commercially might trigger irritation and symptoms.

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