Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Sea lice reported along Florida beaches: What to know

Sea lice reported along Florida beaches: What to know

Lifeguards at Pensacola Beach raised purple flags on Tuesday, warning beachgoers that there was unsafe marine life in the water - tiny jellyfish larvae known as sea lice. The lice haven't been reported in other Gulf Coast beaches; Panama City, Destin, South Walton and Gulf Shores are all flying yellow flags, indicating the presence of potentially unsafe surf but no risky marine animals. These sea lice outbreaks aren't anything new, though.

Sea lice - microscopic pests that cause rashes underneath bathing suits - have been reported along beaches in the Pensacola area. "We also have purple flags in the air due to sea lice (small jelly fish)", they wrote in a Facebook post. Well, if you are hanging out on the coast of northwest Florida you may now have an excuse not to.

According to the Florida Department of Health, sea lice, also called thimble jellyfish, can cause dermatitis, or small red bumps on a person's skin.

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In some people, the rash may be accompanied by symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and muscle spasms, and they may have trouble sleeping. Some swimmers report feeling a slight prickling sensation while still in the water.

The larvae can become lodged between a person's bathing suit and skin, resulting in multiple stings. There is also evidence that sunscreen can help protect the skin from stings.

Officials say the baby jellyfish like hair, so many people experience the irritation on their necks after their hair has been dangling in the water. 'You are a land animal and the Gulf is not our native environment'. Since sea lice sting humans when they are trapped beneath clothes, women and girls may be better off in a bikini rather than a one-piece bathing suit in the water. Shower off loose larvae to limit the number of stings. Treatment typically includes antihistamine and medications to lessen the itching. Those who contract the rash or come in contact with the sea lice should be sure to wash their bathing suit and dry it with high heat to make sure there are no leftover sea lice.

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