Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Sea lice invade Pensacola beaches

Sea lice invade Pensacola beaches

Spokeswoman Maggie Hall said sea lice are pests that beachgoers should be aware of but have to accept.

Authorities are pestering Floridians and visitors of the state to use caution when going to the beach after the announcement of a sea lice outbreak.

And if out and about on Florida beaches, the Pensacola Beach Lifeguards remind sunbathers to drink "plenty of water and apply lots of sunscreen". Some swimmers report feeling a slight prickling sensation while still in the water.

Yes, a swarm of stinging sea lice have invaded the shores around Pensacola Beach, leading authorities to post purple flags to warn about the irritating underwater creatures. While the name suggests it to be a lice, this is actually a rash caused by miniature larvae of marine life.

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Stings from the tiny jellyfish can cause a red rash, generally called dermatitis, with red, itchy or burning bumps that appear within four to 24 hours after exposure.

Sea lice are not really lice at all.

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

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"It is not unusual to see evidence of 200 or more stings under a person's bathing suit", said the Florida Department of Health.

"Its one of those things that live in the water and we encourage people to shower off and wear their swimsuits and not to wear shirts in the water", Hall said.

The surface area of a bathing suit may also increase the area over which someone can get stung. 'You are a land animal and the Gulf is not our native environment'. Shower off loose larvae to limit the number of stings. We also have purple flags in the air due to sea lice (small jelly fish) please keep in mind to drink plenty of water and apply lots of sunscreen. 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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