Sea Lice Reported On Florida Beach

Sea lice can cause a rash on a person’s skin

- The Pensacola Beach Lifeguards have posted purple flags along their beaches as reports of so-called sea lice attacks increase.

Dave Greenwood, director of public safety for Pensacola Beach, told the Pensacola News Journal sea lice are actually tiny jellyfish larvae and jellyfish cells. And that's exactly what has been happening at some Northwest Florida beaches.

Florida's DoH says they can be prevalent from March through August at 250 miles of Florida beaches from the southern Atlantic up to the Panhandle.

Sea lice can not live outside of the water, however they cause human skin to break out with itchy rashes that have bumps and welts.

Sea lice appear to the naked eye as a "speck of finely ground pepper" floating on the surface of the water, according to the Florida Department of Health, with a size approximating that of a pinhead.

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The baby jellyfish get caught in bathing suits and when any pressure occurs, stinging cells are released, causing itching, welts, and irritation.

The organisms are common on beaches in the area during summer when the water is warm, he told the newspaper, but they can not live outside of salt water.

The rash-a form of dematitis-usually subsides in a week or less, but it can be accompanied by other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle spasms and more.

The larvae can become lodged between a person's bathing suit and skin, resulting in multiple stings. Female swimmers wearing one-piece suits and children and adults wearing T-shirts in the water can be at risk of a more severe reaction, the Florida Department of Health says. There is also evidence that sunscreen can help protect the skin from stings. "You are a land animal and the Gulf is not our native environment". The term sea lice refers to the condition caused by the larvae stings, also called "Sea Bather's Eruption".

Wash your bathing suit thoroughly with detergent and then use heat to dry it. Air drying isn't enough. You'll know within a few hours if you've fallen victim to their sting.

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