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Sea lice

Sea lice are the microscopic larvae of jellyfish and other stingers, and they contain nematocysts or sting cells of adult jellyfish and stingers. Some larvae can be seen by the naked eye and others can see using a microscope.

Sea lice are also described as Swimmer’s itch known as sea bather’s eruption or cercarial dermatitis. Sea lice can cause an annoying skin rash. These organisms travel in big groups or “blooms” and rampant in warm waters. They can be seen along with floating seaweeds and can be seen in tropical countries.

Symptoms

  • Tingling and itching sensation of the skin under the bathing suit while still in the water and can affect the groin, breasts or areas of skin around the wetsuit cuffs. After some time, the itching becomes severe and can last for hours or several weeks.
  • Development of rash on the skin that is covered by the swimsuit
  • Some people especially small children experience flu-like symptoms while swimming or wading in coastal waters.
  • There is nausea, fever and fatigue that needs medical help immediately
    Sea lice

    Development of rash on the skin that is covered by the swimsuit

Treatment

  • When the body is exposed to sea lice, get out of the water as soon as possible, flush the skin with fresh water, remove the swimsuit and take a hot shower immediately.
  • Pat the skin dry but avoid rubbing the skin.
  • Wash carefully the swimsuit before wearing it again. Make sure that all sting cells should be washed out completely.
  • Treat the affected area using vinegar and meat tenderizer. Sprinkle some meat tenderizer over inflamed and irritated area and then pour vinegar over it. Repeat this procedure several times until the itching is minimized. Vinegar and meat tenderizer helps in minimizing inflammation and itchiness.
  • Another way of treating sea lice stings is using castor oil by applying it to the affected areas several times every day to help relieve the skin and minimize the swelling.
  • Avoid scratching the affected area and avoid wearing clothes that causes irritation to the already inflamed and tender skin.
  • Take the prescribed antihistamines in order to help lessen the redness and itchiness of the affected area.

If the symptoms still persist or do not subside at all and there are rashes which last longer, it is a sign of a secondary infection and it is vital to seek medical help immediately.

Tips

  • Avoid swimming in waters where there are plenty of sea lice especially during summer months. If the skin is sensitives, there is a high risk of developing allergies due to sea lice.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to the whole body before going for a swim. Another way is apply sunscreen or regular lotion.
  • The individual should avoid swimming in infested waters when there is an open wound or cut.

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