Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sea Lice-stay protected at the beach!

Itchy Scratchy

Have you ever broke out in hives after returning from a day at the beach? Have you ever felt an itching, burning, and stinging sensation that just will not go away after you have been in the ocean?

It could possibly be...Sea Lice!

What is sea lice?
-Well, sea lice is actually a marine parasite that affects fish and has nothing to do with producing a rash on humans.
-The "sea lice" that is harmful to humans is actually the larvae of jellyfish.
-Larvae is visible to the naked eye, but nearly invisible
in saltwater.
-Higher concentrations occur in the summer months.

-usually does not arise until 6 hours-2 days after exposure
-Very itchy, stinging feeling
-Rashes and blisters
-Can be uncomfortable and painful
-Mostly occur in regions where a bathing suit or other clothing was worn in the water, because the larvae gets trapped in those areas
-A severe reaction may include fever, chills, headaches, nausea, or vomiting

-Occurs in saltwater of coastal regions
-Prevalent in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, South America, eastern and western coasts of the United States

-Usually in the summer months, between April and August (however, may occur anytime throughout the year)

What to do!
-First, immediately exit the water if you feel an immediate response
-Remove the bathing suit, then rinse off thoroughly (do not shower with the bathing suit on, this will only cause the remaining larvae to sting even more)
(Do not wear the same swim suit until it has been machine washed at least once)

-If you suspect sea lice, hydrogen peroxide, soap, and water scrub on the infected area will cause some relief. You must carefully watch the area for further secondary skin infections.
-Without treatment, the rash will usually disappear in 1-2 weeks. However, many people find this very uncomfortable.
-Topical corticosteroid ointment can provide relief and topical antibiotic ointment may help to prevent a secondary infection.
-Try taking oral Benadryl to help with the itching.

Home Remedy:
-To relieve itching and burning, try vinegar and meat tenderizer

-If you are on vacation, some beaches will have sea lice warnings posted somewhere, whether on the beach or the in the paper, if there has been excessive exposure
-Be mindful of the time of the year
-Try wearing Sea Safe lotion. This lotion will help prevent unwanted exposure from jellyfish, sea lice, and other creatures-even has sunscreen.

Remember! If any other critters or bugs traveled back with you after Spring Break, Student Health Services does offer free and confidential STI testing and treatment.

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