Sea urchins are the ocean's pincushions; strange, spiny creatures that inhabit the sea floor.....just waiting for your unsuspecting foot to come along and stand on them. Sea urchin 1. Foot 0.
They seem to be flourishing at Seals right now, judging by the number of pic's posted on social media lately of spike infested feet. They lurk in crevices between the rocks, so the obvious advice would be to tread on top of the rocks not between them. Unfortunately one doesn't always get the luxury of choice when coming in at Seals.
So, you make the mistake of sticking your foot where it shouldn't go, and your prize is few spines in the sole. So now what? Here's a quick run down of what to do post critter attack:
Try yank the suckers out. Easier said than done cos they often just break off in the tweezer, so be gentle. You may even have to cut the skin open slightly to allow you to dig a bit further in to get a grip on them. Cos trust me, rather out than in. Just remember to disinfect the tweezers and the scissors first. Cos last time you used the tweezers they were up your nose...
Leaving any foreign object under the skin, regardless of whether it is poisonous or not, is gonna give you grief - cos firstly they bloody sore to put pressure on, and they also stand the chance of getting infected. Double whammy bad. K, so you've got em out as best you can - but there're still some buried in there to deep to get out...
Go to the kitchen, grab the white vinegar, stick it in a foot-sized bowl and heat it in the microwave until it is hot (but not so hot you gonna burn yourself). Because of the properties of sea urchin spines, the spines dissolve in vinegar. Vinegar is also a natural antiseptic. So double thumbs up for the essential slap chip condiment.
Submerge your foot in the vinegar and leave it in the there until the vinegar is no longer warm. This will help to dissolve any urchin spine remnants that are not visible to the naked eye, and even help lift spine pieces to the surface of the skin.
You're not done yet...
After soaking in hot vinegar, soak the area in hot water. The water, like the vinegar, should be hot but not hot enough to burn the skin. Keep ya foot in there for about 20 minutes, or until the water is no longer hot. The hot water help reduce the inflammation and soreness, as well as hopefully killing any remaining bacteria that the vinegar didn't nuke.
Wanna get the noddy badge for first aid treatment?
Before you go to bed, soak a clean towel in warm vinegar and wrap it round your foot. Use a bit of duct tape to strap it in place. Now put a plastic bag over the whole foot and tape it closed round the top of your ankle. This will keep the dampness of the vinegar soaked cloth contained. Leave it on overnight.
Speed is your friend in this whole process - the quicker you get the spines out using your tweezers and the vinegar, the less chance you have of an infection developing.
So keep a beady eye open for the sea floor porcupines, cos it's blerrie sore when you stand on them lil bastards.