You've been planning a vacation to the
beach, but now the news has you nervous! Right now, "sea lice" are
making headlines for the havoc they are causing along the Florida
Gulf Coast. These tiny creatures can cause itching bites or lesions
that can be quite painful. But sea lice are not in the same family
as head lice, body lice or pubic lice.
Sea lice are actually jellyfish larvae. The larvae from thimble
jellyfish are the common culprits in Florida and Caribbean waters.
They sting when they become trapped between the space where your
swimsuit and skin meet. The trapped sea lice discharge stinging
cells releasing a toxin into the skin.
Sea lice are not like human head lice. They are not trying to
survive off a human host. However, you can still be stung after
washing and drying the affected clothing, since the stinging cells
can still be activated. It is best to machine wash the affected
If you are stung by sea lice, you will want to remove your
clothing and take a freshwater shower as soon as possible. The rash
may be treated by over-the-counter anti-itch and antihistamine
medications, but it is always best to seek the help of a medical