Starfish, Crown of Thorns, and Sea Star Punctures Overview
Starfish, crown of thorns, and sea stars live throughout the subtropics and tropics. They are bottom dwellers, so any contact with a diver is accidental. Injury occurs from the spine and the venom injected from the spine. Crown of thorns have as many as 13-16 short, sharp spines that are up to 6 cm (over 2 inches) long.
Starfish, Crown of Thorns, and Sea Star Punctures Symptoms
Puncture symptoms include:
- Severe pain
More severe reactions include:
Starfish, Crown of Thorns, and Sea Star Punctures Treatment
If medical attention is not readily available, use the following guidelines for treating a puncture wound:
- Immerse the affected area in water as hot as the person can tolerate for 30-90 minutes. Repeat as necessary to control pain.
- Use tweezers to remove any spines in the wound because symptoms may not go away until all spines have been removed.
- Scrub the wound with soap and water followed by extensive rinsing with salt water.
- Do not cover the wound with tape.
- Apply hydrocortisone cream 2-3 times daily as needed for itching. Discontinue immediately if any signs of infection appear.
- Apply topical antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin) 3 times per day if signs of infection, such as pus, redness, or heat, are present.
Oral antibiotics are usually recommended for infection.
- Continue antibiotics for at least 5 days after all signs of infection have cleared.
- Check for drug allergy prior to starting any antibiotic.
- When outside, use sunscreen and wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat, while taking these antibiotics because certain antibiotics may cause sensitivity to the sun.
When to Seek Medical Care
Seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Consult a doctor about treatment with available medications.
Synonyms and Keywords
wilderness: starfish, crown of thorns, and sea star punctures, starfish punctures, crown of thorns punctures, sea star punctures, scuba diving, snorkeling