>It is not uncommon for a diver to have a red raised rash resulting from a coral encounter. A burning sensation, pain and itching may also accompany a rash if the coral is actually a hydroid, such as fire coral, which is not a true coral, but a stinging creature. The extent of the reaction to fire coral depends on the amount of exposure to toxins, the extent of the abrasion and pre-existing sensitivity of the victim.
>You did the correct thing to clean the wound with soap and water: reactions may be reduced by immediately cleansing the affected area. The most frequent complications from non-stinging coral scrapes are inflammation, which leads to poor healing, and, less commonly, a secondary infection. Proper cleansing, therefore, is very important.
>If fire coral is the culprit, then dilute acetic acid solution, such as household white vinegar, is a reasonable topical decontaminant and should be used as a soak to reduce the pain. It's inexpensive and readily available. Immersion in hot water can reduce the symptoms. If hot water is not available then application of instant hot packs may be used. If heat sources are not available instant cold packs or ice packs may be used.
>Treatment for the inflammatory response is symptomatic. Steroid creams are rarely helpful, and they can prolong a skin infection. If the inflammation is severe, systemic steroids in a moderate, tapering dose may be administered under the supervision of a trained medical provider. Oral antihistamines can sometimes, but not always, help reduce the itching or burning sensation.
>When underwater, try to avoid contact with coral or any other living creature. Whenever possible, wear a wetsuit or diveskin to protect yourself during those times when you are pushed into coral by another diver or by a current.
>Ocean divers should consider a marine animal first aid kit for their travels. This will speed up the time to properly administer first aid for injuries. Additionally, for divers who want to learn more about the various marine life injuries, there are courses in marine life identification, first aid courses and a variety of books and publications available.