Phylum porifera

Phylum porifera.jpg


  • Also known as "sponges"

Life and Habitat

  • Approximately 5000 species of sponge
  • Generally stationary and attach to see floor or coral beds

Relevant species

  • Most common Tedania ignis (Hawaiian or West Indian fire sponge)
    • Found in Florida and Hawaii
  • Fibula nolitangere (poison bun sponge)
  • Microciona prolifera (red moss sponge)

Clinical Features

Left: eczema-like plaques on the hand after known marinesponge exposure. Right: disseminated excoriated papules in a swimmer after diving in a lake in the Amazon region.
  • Symptoms caused by contact with sponge
  • Pruritic dermatitis and rarely erythema multiforme or anaphylactoid reaction
  • Reaction appears between 10 minutes and a few hours of contact
  • Starts with pruritus and burning
    • May progress to local edema, proximal joint swelling, or vesiculation
    • When large areas of skin are involved, patients can have fever, malaise, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps
  • Mild reactions resolve in 3-7 days

Differential Diagnosis

Marine toxins, envenomations, and bites



  • Gently dry skin
  • Attempt to remove small spicules embedded in skin
    • May use adhesive tape
  • Use 5% acetic acid (vinegar) soaks to affected area 10-30 minutes 3-4 times daily
  • Topical steroids may relieve secondary inflammation
  • Tetanus prophylaxis
  • Close follow up for wound checks to monitor for infection


See Also

External Links


  • Auerbach PS, DiTullio AE. Envenomation by Aquatic Invertebrates. In Auerbach PS, Cushing TA, Harris NS. Auerbach’s Wilderness Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017: 1679 – 1682.