Sea lice - also known as beach lice or Sunbather's Eruption - are the larvae of thimble jellysh. They are generally found in warmer waters, such as those in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and are most active between April and August. They are tiny specks, no smaller than a grain of pepper, and are almost invisible. “Sea Lice”
Where are they?
Sea lice have been reported reported in Palm Beach County and northern Broward County where the Gulf Stream pushes warm water closer to shore. They can also be found in brackish warm water such as the Loxahatchee River.
What happens if you get bit by sea lice?
Generally, sea lice bites occur when the tiny baby jellysh get caught between a swimmers' skin and their bathing suit, other clothes or even in their hair. If that happens, they will sting, though swimmers usually don't know they've been bitten right away. The itching from the sea lice usually doesn't start for four to six hours after leaving the water when people break out in an acne-like rash in the areas covered by their bathing suits or in crevices such as their armpit. The symptoms generally last two to four days but can last as long as two weeks. The rash can go away on its own or, in some cases, require more intensive medical treatment.
How to avoid sea lice bites
First, always check Lifeguard ag postings. That's a sign that there's dangerous marine life in the water and it's best to stay away. Health officials say swimmers should avoid wearing T-shirts; protection from the sun can be achieved with sunscreen. Beachgoers are advised to change out of their bathing suits as soon as possible and then take a freshwater shower. You should also wash your bathing suit with detergent and dry it under high heat to kill any of the jellysh. Don't take a freshwater shower with your bathing suit on though, as this will cause the stinging cells in the fabric to re and release more venom. Some health officials advise wearing a waterproof moisturizer, such as zinc oxide, or layers of petroleum jelly to block the stings. According to the Florida Department of Public Health, there is some evidence that using a topical sunscreen or suntan lotion could actually protect your skin from penetration by the sea lice. There are also commercial products that advertise they can prevent sea lice or jellysh stings.
And if you're stung by sea lice?
Florida Department of Health recommends treating the rash with an antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream, as well as bathing in colloidal oatmeal and applying calamine lotion to reduce the rash and itchiness. If prolonged seek advice from a medical professional.