Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Feeling Itchy? Sea Lice Reported at Northwest Florida Beaches

This microscopic image shows adult thimble jellyfish or sea lice This microscopic image shows adult thimble jellyfish or sea lice
Melissa Porter | 28 June, 2018, 22:25

"They aren't very intense, which is why we call them sea lice and not sea hornets or sea wasps", Dave Greenwood, director of public safety for the beach, told the Journal. Well, if you are hanging out on the coast of northwest Florida you may now have an excuse not to. The department recommends that swimmers avoid wearing t-shirts in the water and that they should take an oatmeal bath if their skin begins to break out in a rash.

The lifeguards flew Purple Flags at Pensacola area beaches on Tuesday because of the sea lice.

Purple flags, which warn visitors about the presence of risky marine life, were flying with green flags, signaling calm waters, on Tuesday morning.

Cases of sea lice have been reported along 250 miles of Florida's southern Atlantic coastline for more than a century, according to the Florida Department of Health. Sea lice is often reported during the months of March through August.

According to the Florida Department of Health, sea lice, also sometimes called seabathers, are microscopic jellyfish called thimble jellyfish. The organisms tend to get trapped between swimmers' bathing suits and skin where friction can cause their cells to "fire", or sting.

"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 FDOH said it is not unusual to see evidence of 200 or more stings under a person's bathing suit. 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. 'You are a land animal and the Gulf is not our native environment'.

Take your bathing suit off immediately after ocean exposure. Treatment includes antihistamine and other medications to lessen itching. The condition - also known as seabather's eruption - is common at the beginning of the summer, according to Florida's Poison Control Centers.

Wash your bathing suit thoroughly with detergent and then use heat to dry it. Air drying isn't enough - a dryer is needed to make sure the lice are dead.