DAN Medical Frequently Asked Questions

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Mooring/Anchor lines causing itching and rash

While performing our safety stop my wife and I were holding onto a mooring line. We were not wearing gloves. Within a few minutes we both had itchy palms and they became red and swollen too. Has DAN ever heard of this and what do we do?

More and more divers have reported stinging injuries as a result of grasping mooring lines with ungloved hands. Rope fibers themselves can cause injury as well. From the reports DAN receives, however, most mooring line injuries appear consistent with a marine life envenomation.
Colonies of organisms eventually inhabit all man-made objects in the ocean, including
mooring lines. It is not known with certainty exactly what organism inhabits the lines. Many authorities maintain that the most likely suspect is a member of the hydroid family, a class of coelenterates that also includes jellyfish. Divers should treat these injuries the same way jellyfish/fire coral injuries would be treated.