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First Aid & Emergencies

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Marine Stings and Scrapes - Home Treatment

Coral scrapes and cuts

Most minor coral scrapes or cuts can be treated at home.

  • Wash the wound for 5 minutes with a soft brush or towel and large amounts of warm water and soap (mild dishwashing soap, such as Ivory, works well). Cleaning the wound as soon as possible may reduce the risk of infection, scarring, and tattooing of the skin from coral material left in the wound.
  • After washing, rinse the wound with a large amount of fresh water.
  • After rinsing with fresh water, rinse the wound again with a solution of one-half hydrogen peroxide and one-half water.
  • After rinsing with a solution of one-half hydrogen peroxide and one-half water, rinse again with fresh water.
  • Stop bleeding camera.gif with direct pressure to the wound.
  • Use an antibiotic ointment, such as polymyxin B sulfate (for example, Polysporin) or bacitracin. Put the ointment lightly on the wound. The ointment will keep a bandage from sticking to the wound. Be sure to read the product label about skin sensitivity. If a skin rash or itching under the bandage develops, stop using the ointment. The rash may mean you had an allergic reaction to the ointment. Antibiotic ointments that contain neomycin may have an increased risk of causing an allergic reaction.
  • Consider bandaging the wound. You may need to protect your wound from getting dirty or irritated. If available, use a nonstick dressing. Be sure to read the product label for correct use.
    • Clean the wound thoroughly before bandaging it to reduce the risk of infection occurring under the bandage.
    • Apply a clean bandage when it gets wet or soiled to further help prevent infection.
    • If a bandage is stuck to a scab, soak it in warm water to soften the scab and make the bandage easier to remove.
  • Watch for symptoms of a skin infection.
  • Be patient. Coral scrapes and cuts may take weeks and sometimes even months to heal completely.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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