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What’s Invading The Florida Shores Will Make Your Skin Crawl

You’ve probably heard about all kinds of threats on Florida beaches, from sharks to flesh-eating bacteria, but there’s one lesser-known threat that’s leaving some Florida beach goers with an itchy rash. It’s commonly called sea lice, but this nuisance is actually the tiny larvae of thimble jellyfish and other stinging sea creatures.

When the tiny organisms (spots similar to black pepper) get caught in swimwear, they sting the unsuspecting swimmer, resulting in a red, itchy rash, or occasionally a more severe reaction. Because so many of those affected are tourists and the treatment is usually done at home, it is not known how many cases occur yearly. It’s more likely to occur in warm waters like those of the Gulf, during the summer months, and cases have already been confirmed in Fort Walton and Santa Rosa Beach so far this year.

 

The reaction, called seabather’s eruption, can begin within several minutes to several hours of swimming and can last for several days. Experts recommend rinsing the area with hot water (not cold), or trying to scrape off the critters with something like sand or a credit card.

If you’re headed to a public beach, look out for the purple flag, which signals dangerous marine life, and sometimes a special warning will be posted.

Have you ever had an experience with sea lice? What other possible threats should Florida beach goers watch out for?

Victoria W
Victoria is a staff writer for OIYS.