A sea sponge is an invertebrate with a porous skeleton that includes spicules. Irritation brought about by a sea sponge arises either due to insertion of the miniature spicules from the sponge or sensitivity or allergic reaction to the sponge and its “products”.
When sea sponges are harvested, divers wear gloves to lessen exposure to the wastes but some irritants might pass through some glove materials or leak into the glove at the wrist.
What are the signs of sea sponge irritation?
- Initially, there is an itchy or stinging, prickly sensation at the site of irritation.
- This is followed by burning, pain, joint swelling, blisters and intense itchiness.
- In case a wide part of the body is exposed to certain sponges, the individual might end up with dizziness, fever, chills, nausea and muscle cramps. In severe cases, erythema multiforme which is a form of skin condition that requires medical care might develop.
- Initially, the affected skin must be dried gently and try to get rid of any spicules using an adhesive tape, facial peel product or rubber cement.
- The area where irritation from a sea sponge occurs must be soaked in a solution of diluted vinegar for 10-30 minutes up to 4 times throughout the day. In case vinegar is not on hand, isopropyl alcohol can be used instead.
- After the primary treatment, if skin inflammation is present, hydrocortisone cream can be applied 2-3 times daily to lessen the itchiness.
- If there are signs of infection such as increasing pain, drainage of pus, redness, warmth, fever or foul odor, a doctor should be seen right away. Antibiotics are generally prescribed in cases where infection is present.
- Dried sponges that are not processed commercially might still trigger irritation and other accompanying symptoms.