‘Sea Lice’ make for an itchy trip to the Jersey Shore
OCEAN CITY — While many people will head to the Jersey Shore for the Labor Day Weekend some are reporting coming home with an unusual skin condition.
News outlets out of Philadelphia, including the Inquirer and Channel 6 News are reporting rashes related to "sea lice." These same species have been reported along the east coast from Florida up to Delaware, and now appear to have reached New Jersey.
While they are called lice, National Graphic says they are not lice at all, but rather the larvae of jellyfish. The larvae are almost invisible to the naked eye, which is why they can be difficult to avoid in the areas where they are found. The rashes that these creatures can cause are also caused "seabather's eruption."
Shanin Theiss of the Ocean City Beach Patrol told the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia that the sea lice were an issue on the beaches last Friday, but that they passed in about a day.
"A lot of people coming up to the tent asking what is going on, little kids mostly with irritation in their suits," he told the network.
And although National Geographic reported the best way to avoid being bitten by the larvae is to stay out of the water there are ways for people to protect themselves. This includes avoiding swimsuits and other clothing that the larvae might attach to, and to not use a towel to dry off when you get out of the water. using a towel could activate the larvae's stingers, according to National Geographic.
The Florida Department of Health also suggests changing out of your bathing suit as quickly as possible, and that all suits should be "thoroughly" washed. Air drying is also not recommended as the rash has been known to come back if not properly cleaned.
For people who do come out of the water itchy from being stung by the larvae, there are steps you can take to help with the itching and the rash. Antihistamines can help, as can the application of hydrocortisone cream, according to the Florida Department of Health. Calamine lotion can also help more severe cases.
The Florida department said children can have different reactions to the stings than adults, and that parents should keep an eye out for any of the symptoms. Children are also encouraged to keep their nails trimmed to avoid scratching the lesions.
The rash that the larvae can cause usually only lasts around a week, according to the Florida department. Symptoms of seabather's eruption can include difficulty sleeping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and headache. The sleep problems could be associated with the severe itching.