Sea Lice Can Ruin Your Vacation
About Sea Lice
There are two types of sea lice. The first type of sea lice is a parasite that feed of fish. They do not affect humans and are not a cause for concern to swimmers and divers. The type of sea lice that is a concern for humans is the type produced by jellyfish and other sea creatures that sting. They produce a minuscule larva that contains a sting that can cause a very unpleasant reaction when it comes into contact with human skin. They are known to thrive and infest the warmer waters off the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and along the east and west coasts of America throughout the hotter summer months. The thimble jellyfish is thought to be the main producer of sea lice. They are very small but can be seen with the naked eye, but are almost impossible to see when they are in the water. The infestations tend to be more extensive during the summer periods when there is usually an increase in the number of people using the sea to swim or dive.
Sea Lice effect on human skin
This tiny sea lice gets caught up between the material of the bathing suit and the body, or in places like under the arms. Their inbuilt reaction to becoming trapped is to release their sting into the body. As with any type of sting, some individual may have a severe allergic reaction and will require immediate medical attention. However, the majority of people will experience an excruciating itch with a red rash and blisters appearing on the affected areas of their body. Younger children may also experience fever, nausea, vomiting, chills and headaches. Symptoms may not fully develop for up to six hours after being stung and can last from anything from two days to two weeks. The rash and blisters will become very itchy, but scratching can cause an infection if the blisters burst. Particularly, with younger children take every precaution to prevent them from scratching.
Applying some common household products such as vinegar or meat tenderizer, can help to relieve the itching. Alternatively, use a hydrocortisone cream, oral antihistamines and an antibiotic cream to reduce the itching and prevent infection. You should adhere to the advice given by a pharmacist on the application of these creams, especially if you suffer from any allergic reaction to such creams. They may not always be suitable for the young or the elderly so be sure the read the instructions carefully.There are commercial products that can be rubbed into the skin to act as a deterrent to this parasite. However, as with most things these will not work for everyone. It is advisable when you have been in the sea to remove your swimsuit before showering. This should help to reduce the odds on you being stung by larvae trapped in your bathing costume when you turn the shower on.
If you have been swimming or diving always shower thoroughly and wear a fresh costume to go into the hotel pool or spa. Always ensure that your swimsuit is washed thoroughly before you use it again. If you are aware of a sea lice problem in the area, wear a full body swimsuit or wetsuit, especially when diving. Even though sea lice are known to slip in between the swimsuit and the body, this can be prevented or minimised by wearing a stinger suit which fit like second skin if worn tight. These suits are known to protect against jellyfish stings, and provide all day protection against the sun UV radiation.