Sea Lice

Sea Lice is also known as Sea Bather's Eruption or Pica-Pica.

Sea lice generally occur on the lower Atlantic coast of Florida from March through August, with the highest incidence in May and June. I have not heard of them being a problem on the Gulf coast at all. Sea lice create an itchy red rash on areas of the body covered by a bathing suit. But, sea lice are really not lice at all. They are the larvae of the Thimble Jellyfish. The nearly microscopic larvae become trapped between the bathing suit fabric and the skin. The resulting friction activates the larvae’s stinging mechanism. The stinging mechanisms are called nematocysts, like those of a jellyfish.

Symptoms of Sea Lice (Jellyfish larvae )Stings

On first exposure, while still in the water, a bather may experience a tingling sensation on areas of the body covered by swimwear. Hairy underarms and hairy chests are also affected.

During the next few hours an itchy red rash develops. The itch can last for several weeks. The rash is the body's reaction to the jellyfish venom, or toxin injected by the nematocysts.

Some people may develop a fever or feel unwell and tired.  Children are more likely to develop systemic effects like fever, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Treatment of Sea Lice (Jellyfish larvae) Stings

After showering, applying diluted vinegar or rubbing alcohol to the skin may help neutralize any remaining toxin from the stinging nematocysts. Hydrocortisone lotion or cream and antihistamines may also help.

Prevention of Sea Lice (Jellyfish larvae )Stings

I've never encountered sea lice on the Gulf coast, but that doesn't mean others haven't.

Copyright: David McRee,