Unseen Dangers of Walking Barefoot on the Beach
Do you enjoy long, barefoot walks on the beach? While it may be romantic, it can be potentially dangerous. Shell fragments or other sharp debris can penetrate your skin causing cuts or puncture wounds that can be extremely painful. If not treated properly, they can become infected by a number of bacteria.
One specific bacterium of concern is Vibrio vulnificus. Infections related to this bacterium typically happen when a cut or wound occurs in salt or brackish water. This organism peaks during the warm summer months when the gulf coast water surface temperature exceeds 68° F. High concentrations of Vibrio are commonly found in filter-feeding organisms such as barnacles, and therefore any cuts or scrapes from barnacles are at an increased risk for infection. Other possible sources of infection include punctures from fishhooks and fish spines or teeth. Following exposure to Vibrio, a local skin infection with large blisters may occur. In an individual with an underlying illness such as liver disease or diabetes, the infection may spread extremely rapidly resulting in significant tissue damage, and if Vibrio infects the bloodstream, it is potentially fatal. Treatment for infection includes antibiotics and possible hospitalization and surgical debridement depending on the severity of the wound.
When it comes to cuts or wounds involving salt or brackish water, it is best to be safe and seek medical attention.