What Are Sea Lice and How to Avoid their Itchy Sting?

Sea lice are more than just jellyfish

A common conception of sea lice is that they are a type of microscopic jellyfish that float around the ocean.

Lisa Gershwin, the director at the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services advises that sea lice are not just a specific tiny creature in the ocean. Sea lice, in general, refers to anything that causes skin irritation from the ocean.

Sea lice can refer to anything from microscopic jellyfish, a species of sea anemone to little crustaceans that might give us an itchy feeling.

They tend to travel in large groups known as blooms. They are microscopic and transparent. This makes it hard to spot the sea lice when they are floating around you.

Sea lice can sting you as you are floating by. The worst stings come when they get trapped underneath your bathing suit.

When you get out of the ocean, the water will drain off your. As the water drains off you, the larvae from the jellyfish will stay behind. Your bathing suit will then rub against your skin. This will cause the larvae to sting you and inject their toxins.

The damage they can do to your skin

At first, you will start to notice a stinging sensation on your skin while you are in the water. However, the stinging sensation can begin immediately or occur several hours later after your are out of the water.

A rash will begin to appear over the part of your body that has been in contact with the sea lice. This could include areas underneath where your bathing suit area would be. You may notice red bumps that come together and resemble a large red mass. Additional symptoms may include headaches, lethargy, and nausea.

The rash is a form of dermatitis know as seabather's eruption. The rash is usually superficial and will heal over time. Some people can develop a serious reaction, in which case you should seek immediate medical assistance.

How can I protect myself against sea lice?

Given that the sea lice is invisible to the naked eye, it may seem like there is nothing you can do to protect yourself – other than avoiding the ocean. There is always something that can be done. Here are 4 steps to take to protect yourself from sea lice.

Check local reports: It is essential to check if there are any lifeguard postings or local ocean reports before entering the water. Don’t go into the water if sea lice have been detected.

Slap on the SPF: You can reduce the risk of getting stung by sea lice by wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen has been known to protect the skin from penetration by the larvae.

Shower immediately: Shower immediately after swimming to err on the side of caution. It is also a good idea to remove your bathing suit while showering.

Wash your bathing suit with detergent: Wash your bathing suit with detergent in the washing machine. If possible, put the bathing suit in the dryer as well. The heat in the dryer will serve to kill any organisms that are trapped in the fabric.

Wear Full Body Swimsuit for skin coverup or Shorty Sunsuit which protects the core body, these type of sun protection swimwear can protect against Sea Lice, Jellyfish and the sun UV radiation.