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Symptoms and Signs of Sea Cucumber Irritation

Doctor's Notes on Sea Cucumber Irritation

Sea cucumbers are echinoderms that live in the seabed in temperate to tropical seas; they are collected as food by humans. They are shaped like cucumbers with tentacles that circle the mouth and have an irritating skin toxin that is in its feces, outer covering and can be secreted into the water. Usually, the toxin is diluted so it may only cause a minor skin rash; undiluted, the toxin-caused rash can be severe and cause blindness if it enters the eye. Death has resulted from eating undercooked Sea cucumbers.

The cause of Sea cucumber irritation is the toxin on the surface of and/or secreted by the organism when it contacts skin or mucus membranes; rarely, it can be severe or lethal when ingested.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.