How to Remove Sea Urchin Spines from Your Feet

Step-by-Step First Aid Tips for Surfers, Swimmers and Beach Frequenters

Woman leaning on fishing net holding foot, partial underwater view
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Warm water and craggy reef crevices make for cozy homes for sea urchins. Their sharp spines are meant to protect urchins from predatory creatures, but can also injure wayward surfers and swimmers who don't spot them in time.

The spines generally cause little harm beyond pain and the possibility of infection. However, if you do experience an allergic reaction such as difficulty with breathing, be sure to notify a doctor right away.

Here are tips on how to remove sea urchin spines from your feet if you ever find yourself in such an unfortunate state.

Soak With Hot Water

First, you want to alleviate the pain and soften the needles. You can do this by soaking the afflicted area in hot water.

Settle Down With a Pair of Tweezers

Try to pick out as many of the pieces as you can with a knife, needle or, preferably, tweezers. The biggest problem is that sea urchin spines often break off under the skin, so be very careful when plucking out the spines. 

Soak With Vinegar

Urban legend has it that human urine will treat both jellyfish stings and sea urchin issues. However, peeing on the afflicted area does not actually work. So, try distilled white vinegar instead. 

Soak the area in pure vinegar (a solution of hot water and vinegar will work as well), which will soften the spines. The urchin spines will either dissolve under the skin or lift to the surface.

Continue to soak the affected area until the spines are gone.

Rinse With Soap and Water

When all the spines are gone, avoid infection by rinsing the afflicted area with soap and clean water.

Remaining Spines?

If there are any spines that you cannot remove or are too painful to remove, you should make an appointment with a doctor who can remove the spine with more refined tools.