Home Dive Training Irritating Injuries and How to Treat Them

Irritating Injuries and How to Treat Them


Sustaining minor injuries on dive trips is fairly common, but that does not make them any less irritating, especially when they can prevent you from diving. Whether it is a sunburn, a bad case of seabather’s eruption, or a surprise case of gastrointestinal distress, even the most minor of mishaps can wreak havoc on a diving schedule or cause more serious complications if left unchecked. Address minor injuries and annoyances early so you can get back to diving safely and without distractions. Do you know how to treat these common mishaps and maladies?


Sunburns are some of the most common conditions afflicting divers travelling to warmer destinations. While it is best to entirely prevent being sunburned, managing the symptoms of a sunburn and preventing further damage can often be done easily. After recognizing a sunburn seek shelter to prevent further exposure and cover the affected area. Take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to relieve pain, and drink water and apply a topical moisturizer to hydrate yourself and the sunburned skin.

The use of an aloe gel may provide additional relief. If the sunburn blisters, cover the area with gauze or a light bandage to prevent infection, but do not break blisters. If a blistering sunburn covers more than 20 percent of your body, seek medical attention.


Whether it’s a hot spot caused by a tight fin strap, or a wetsuit that doesn’t fit quite right, a serious blister can bring your enjoyment of a dive to a stop almost immediately. Prevent blisters by addressing hotspots as they appear – cover them with moleskin or medical tape to protect them from friction. If a blister does occur, leave it intact and make a “doughnut” out of a moleskin or gauze to protect the area from contact. It can be difficult to get tape and bandages to adhere in wet environments, so try using a medical adhesive to apply moleskin on a wound that might be submerged. If you have no choice but to break the blister, use a sanitized needle or sharp blade to make a small puncture near the blisters bottom edge and apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage to the wound after it has drained.

Seabather’s Eruption

Often called “sea lice”, seabather’s eruption is most commonly the result of contact with the larvae of thimble-jellyfish or other organisms with stinging cells that results in a rash of itchy red bumps. Identifying whether the rash is caused by contact with a stinging larvae or another source of irritation like sunscreen, sand, sweat, sun, or saltwater, can be difficult. If stinging bumps appear on covered areas of the body (like under the cuffs of a wetsuit) soon after exposure to seawater, the rash may be caused by seabather’s eruption. Treat the rash like you would a jellyfish sting, by rinsing the area with vinegar, applying heat to relieve symptoms, and washing the affected area. Keep the rash clean, dry, and uncovered as much as possible to promote healing.

For more information on first-aid skills visit DAN.org/Health