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Tips for Surfers: How to Handle a Reef Rash and Sea Urchins

These tips are brought to you courtesy of Surfer Magazine, one of the premier online resources for surf enthusiasts, and Kirk Ziegler, an experienced Hawaii lifeguard. If you surf a lot, than you probably know that you can sometimes face the bad side of nature. You can step on Sea Urchins or hit a reef. If you get injured, you need to know what to do on the spot, before seeing a doctor. Here’s what Kirk Ziegler advises you to do:

Sea Urchins: It happens and it hurts, but stepping on a sea urchin, isn’t going to kill you so the best thing you can do is to relax. There are a lot of different theories out there on what you should do to dull the ache, but the best thing you can do is to soak the affected area in warm water for a while. When you’re done soaking your foot, try and pull all of the big spines out you can out with a disinfected pair of tweezers or a needle. This part can be really frustrating because the spines will break up really easy so you have to take your time. When you’re pulling out a spine, you have to try and pull it straight up and out or it’s guaranteed gonna break. The remaining spines will eventually break up and dissolve in your skin. The big risk here is infection. If the area still feels really sore after more than a week, go see a doctor.

Reef Rash: Being a lifeguard, I see lots of people who get banged up on the reef and their injuries pretty much run the spectrum from small scratches to massive head wounds. Reef cuts appear to look like they’re bleeding more than they really are because the water dilutes your blood and spreads it around. So people see the cut and all the blood and get worried, when in reality most reef cuts look worse than they really are and are nothing to come unglued over. Unless you’ve got a really deep, open wound, you’re not going to need stitches or go the hospital. Just clean up the wound with warm, soapy water, and if you like throw on some iodine. From then on, just keep it dry. The big risk is infection, not the actual scrape.

We hope you find these tips useful. Stay tuned as we will be back with more tips to help you enjoy a pleasant surfing session at all times.