How Are Sea Sponges Harmful?

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Sea sponge is a popular item used for skin care.
Sea sponge is a popular item used for skin care. (Image: sponge purple image by robert mobley from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Sea sponges are simple cellular organisms that grow in the ocean. Collected by divers, these sponges are sold as natural beauty products. Global warming is the biggest threat to these organisms. Sea sponges may be harmful to a human if contacted in their natural habitat.

Description

Sponges are multi-cellular organisms that come in a variety of color and sizes. These creatures do not have systems like humans, such as nervous systems, and survive by inhaling prey through their pores. Four classes of sponges exist: Hexactinellida, Demospongiae, Sclerospongiae and Calcarea.

Habitat

Around 99 percent sponges are found in marine waters, while a small percentage is found in freshwater.

Uses

Natural sponges are often used as loofahs in the bath to exfoliate the skin. Sponges are also a natural option as a cleaning sponge that is reusable and cleaned easily. Some women choose to use natural sea sponges as tampons as well.

Toxins

Divers who collect sponges may come in contact with toxins. These toxins live on the sponge or are sprayed through the pores as a defense against predators, causing skin rashes on humans.

Symptoms

There are a number of symptoms associated with sea sponge skin rashes. The area will appear red and raised, and have swelling and itching as well as tingling at the site of contact. In rare cases a person may feel nauseous and faint.

Treatment

Vinegar is the best treatment for sea sponge irritation. For 15 minutes apply a vinegar-soaked cloth to the area. Clean the area with water and pick off any part of the sponge that is still on the skin. Apply vinegar for five more minutes if the swelling and irritation continues. You can apply over-the-counter treatments such as Hydro-cortisone cream.

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