Doctor's Notes on Starfish (Sea Star) and Crown of Thorns Puncture Wounds Symptoms and Poison Treatment
Starfish (Sea Star) and Crown of Thorns are marine animals that possess sharp spines that contain venom inside a gelatinous covering; they live on the bottom of the seabed and divers usually get puncture wounds accidentally when they physically contact the animal’s spines that puncture the skin. Signs and symptoms are immediate severe pain, significant bleeding and swelling at the puncture site. Symptoms in most divers last about 30 minutes to 3 hours and then begin to resolve. However, severe symptoms can include numbness, tingling, weakness, nausea, vomiting, joint aches, headaches, cough and rarely, paralysis.
The causes of the symptoms are due to the sharpness of the spines that can cause deep puncture wounds and lacerate skin and to the toxic substances in the venom. Once the spines are removed and the venom inactivated by hot water (not to exceed140 F), the symptoms abate. If the spines are not removed, the symptoms will continue. Most of these puncture wounds should be seen by a medical caregiver.
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.