Florida is a great place for vacation, and everybody love taking swims at the local beaches. However, from May until July, there are common phenomena in the area. Apparently, around 15% of the people that get into the water develop a very red rash and sometimes, it comes with flu-like symptoms. This is what locals call ‘sea lice’ or ‘sea bather’s eruption.’ After some research and a couple of studies, scientists determined that the skin problem is caused by thimble jellyfish’s babies.

Beach goers tried out improvised treatments against the rash

This year's sunny summer on Florida beaches could be under sea lice's menace.
This year’s sunny summer on Florida beaches could be under sea lice’s menace. Tourists must be aware of getting sea lice on them as they get their names from their equivalent, lice. Image Credit: Extreme Coast

Scientists believe the problem has been manifesting in the beaches in Florida since 1900. People have used a lot of names to refer to it, but it wasn’t until very recently that researchers performed studies and found out what the problem was. In 1992, a group of scientists from the University of Miami collected samples of water during the infection season and found out little organism called Cnidarians.

Even though there are 9000 species in that family, the researchers identified the body as larvae from a unique louche cult or as it is commonly known, thimble jellyfish. These creatures have a little structure they use to sting. When bathers go into the infested sea water, their swimsuits act as a fish net that catches these little creatures. Once out of the water, they go mad and start stinging. This would explain why the rash usually occurs in the areas covered by bathing suits and shorts.

The problems caused by the rash are usually temporary, and they rarely get serious. In the worst of the cases, a person with “sea lice” will develop flu-like symptoms, especially children and individuals who have had the problem in the past. Since the symptoms eventually wear off, people that are used to the sea have improvised many ways to treat the problem without involving doctors.

People have used things like garlic, rubbing alcohol on the affected area, hydrogen peroxide, and athlete’s foot spray, among others. It is important to note that bathing suits cover very sensitive areas that could be affected in an entirely negative way if, for example, you rinse your skin with alcohol.

It is a bacterial-like infection

Depending on each case, doctors will usually tell patients to use antihistamine and hydrocortisone cream for the rash areas. In more complex cases, doctors have suggested the use of steroids. If an infected person has poor hygiene, the risk of triggering other problems increase.

When people bath at infested sea water, the little bacteria will be caught by the swimsuit and that is how they spread. Sometimes, bathers will switch between a swim at the beach, and then they jump in a pool becoming the method of transportation for these little creatures. To avoid this, scientists ask sea-water bathers to take a shower after swimming in the ocean without their swimsuits. Also, they encourage people to rinse their bathing suits with alcohol or abundant water.

Florida is a very touristic place, and for bathers that love going there in the period between May and July, it would be an excellent idea to take precautions against the sea bathers rash.

Source: Florida Health