×

Please Remove Adblock
Adverts are the main source of Revenue for DoveMed. Please remove adblock to help us create the best medical content found on the Internet.

First Aid for Sea Cucumber Irritation

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Erin Silversmith

A sea cucumber is a sea floor dwelling, non-aggressive marine animal. It has an elongated cylindrical body, which ranges from a few centimeters to a few meters in length. An irritation occurs on contact with the expelled toxic threads, excreta, outer skin, or ejected innards of the sea cucumber.


What is Sea Cucumber Irritation?

A sea cucumber is a sea floor dwelling, non-aggressive marine animal. It has an elongated cylindrical body, which ranges from a few centimeters to a few meters in length. An irritation occurs on contact with the expelled toxic threads, excreta, outer skin, or ejected innards of the sea cucumber.

What are the Causes of Sea Cucumber Irritation?

Most common causes of Sea Cucumber Irritation include (but are not limited to):

  • Deep sea divers; divers without a mask have a higher risk of eye irritation
  • Picking up sea cucumber with bare hands
  • Walking barefoot on the beach or in shallow sea water

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sea Cucumber Irritation?

Signs and symptoms of Sea Cucumber Irritation vary according to the type of species the individual is exposed to and the amount of toxin injected. The symptoms may be mild or severe and could include:

  • Skin symptoms:
    • Rashes on the skin, red-color skin
    • Itching
    • Swelling of the area
    • Pain
  • Eye-related symptoms:
    • Severe eye irritation
    • Conjunctivitis
    • Blindness

How is First Aid administered for Sea Cucumber Irritation?

If a Sea Cucumber Irritation (or sting or bite of a marine creature) is suspected, it is always important to call your local emergency helpline number (or 911 in the US) without any delay, and provide as much information as possible, even if the individual does not have any symptoms.

Until medical help arrives:

  • Move the individual away from the water or incident spot
  • Make a note of the exact time of the incident and notify the emergency medical personnel accordingly
  • Use seawater to dilute the toxin; the use of freshwater may increase pain
  • Rinse the eyes immediately and repeatedly with copious amounts of fresh water or saline solution, if the eyes are affected
  • Try to identify or locate the marine animal (only if safely possible) and keep the medical personnel informed
  • DO NOT give anything orally to the individual
  • Unless directed by the physician, DO NOT give any medication

Who should administer First Aid for Sea Cucumber Irritation?

The individual himself/herself or someone nearby may begin to administer First Aid. Call your local emergency helpline number or 911 immediately as mentioned before.

What is the Prognosis of Sea Cucumber Irritation?

The prognosis of Sea Cucumber Irritation is dependent on the potency of the toxin, the severity of reaction, and timely manner in which treatment is administered.

How can Sea Cucumber Irritation be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Sea Cucumber Irritation include:

  • Avoid making an attempt to touch or handle marine animals unnecessarily, even if they are pets
  • Do not ignore warnings of lifeguards or health officials at the beach
  • Wear protective clothing (including face masks), if you plan to swim or dive in infested areas
  • Generally be aware or watchful of the waters you are in (to the extent possible)
  • Wear protective footwear while walking on beach sand
  • Do not handle dead sea cucumber

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

Do’s:

  • Call your local emergency helpline number (or 911) for help
  • Remove the victim immediately from the water
  • When in doubt, wash the affected area with seawater and not freshwater
  • If possible, use hot water to repeatedly wash the wound

Don’ts:

  • Do not hesitate to call your emergency help services
  • Do not medicate the individual, unless advised by a healthcare professional
  • Do not move the affected region of the body too much
  • Do not run or exercise which might increase the circulation of toxin in the body
  • Do not elevate the affected area above the heart level, since this can also increase circulation of the toxin

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Dec. 27, 2015
Last updated: March 5, 2018