Earlier this week, Florida beach goers were reporting cases of an itchy rash after taking a refreshing dip in the water. It would seem that the rash has been reported as something known as “sea lice”.
Those affected present with an itchy rash, that can also be paired with little bumps and welts. In rare extreme cases, those affected could present with flu-like symptoms, including fever, headaches, chills and nausea.
Due to the reported cases, the lifeguards along the Florida coastline have hoisted purple flags, so that beach goers will be warned of the problem.
“Sea lice” are not actually lice, in the typical sense. They are the miniature larvae state of such sea life as jellyfish or sea anemones. The term “sea lice” is more of a reference to a resulting condition caused when the larvae stings the individual. Scientists caution the use of “sea lice” for the rash causing condition. There is another form of sea lice that is a parasite that affects only fish.
Most of the “sea lice” outbreaks can be attributed to the larvae of a jellyfish. They are minute in size, and when the beach goer is in the water, the larvae get caught inside the bathing suit. When any pressure is applied to the area that the larvae are occupying, stinging cells are released, and this is what causes the rash, welts, and itching irritation. Unlike adult jellyfish, the larvae are so small, that you never actually feel the sting. Because of this, most often you do not realize you have been stung until the rash and itching appear, usually several hours later. The symptoms can last for days afterwards.
To significantly lower your risk of getting “sea lice”:
Check with lifeguards to make sure that “sea lice” are not known to be present
Avoid wearing t-shirts into the water. They will just give the “sea lice” more room to hide.
Wearing sunscreen could help in creating a barrier between you and the “sea lice”.
Remove your bathing suit and shower really well after swimming.
Make sure you thoroughly wash your bathing suit, with detergent, and dry in the dryer.
If you find you are already experiencing symptoms, take an oral antihistamine for the itching, and apply a 1% cortisone cream to help with the stinging.