Sea lice invade Pensacola beaches

Sea lice which have been reported at Pensacola Beach can cause a rash and itching

Sea lice which have been reported at Pensacola Beach can cause a rash and itching

Greenwood said the lice can mildly irritate a swimmer's skin.

Common on area beaches, sea lice spend most of their time in warm waters.

The warm sunny weather has many flocking to the beach, but as the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, officials in Florida are warning beachgoers of an unpleasant organism lurking in the water along part of the coast.

Bathing suits act like nets, trapping sea lice larvae.

On Tuesday, lifeguards along Pensacola Beach posted purple flags, which warn visitors about the presence of unsafe marine life, including sea lice, according to the Pensacola Beach Lifeguards.

Dave Greenwood, director of public safety for Pensecola Beach, shared that stinging sea lice are tiny jellyfish larvae and jellyfish cells.


Lifeguards in Northwest Florida as well as local doctors say it's the season for sea lice and they're the travel buddies you do not want to tag along. They sting when they become trapped between skin and a bathing suit and the bites can cause a red rash and small blisters, according to the Florida Department of Public Health. The condition usually appears between four and 24 hours after exposure, but some people may feel a "prickling" sensation while in the water.

Some rashes are accompanied by a slew of other symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting.

"Its one of those things that live in the water and we encourage people to shower off and wear their swimsuits and not to wear shirts in the water", Hall said. Topical 1% cortisone cream or a sting aid may also be helpful.

If you're already experiencing symptoms, use an oral antihistamine to relieve itching. "You are a land animal and the Gulf is not our native environment".

If you're taking a dip in the ocean, remove your T-shirt before going swimming.

Thoroughly clean your bathing suit after use with detergent and heated dying, not air drying. Shower off loose larvae to limit the number of stings. Those who contract the rash or come in contact with the sea lice should be sure to wash their bathing suit and dry it with high heat to make sure there are no leftover sea lice.

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