Here's Why You Should Think Twice About Jumping in the Ocean This Summer

A startling report by ABC News is leaving us thinking twice before swimming in the open ocean this summer. According to the station, experts are expecting to see a widespread outbreak of sea lice—creating a rash known as seabather’s eruption—in the coming months, specifically in the Gulf of Mexico. Seattle dermatologist Jennifer Reichel, MD, says this eruption is caused by Cnidarian larvae (which she also explains as tiny—usually thimble—jellyfish larvae) and happens mostly along the Atlantic coast. “It begins a few hours after swimming in the water and affects the covered areas of the body, as the larvae are trapped under the bathing suit (as apposed to swimmer's itch, which affects the non-covered areas),” Dr. Reichel explains, adding that the result is tiny red bumps that itch or sting.

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WKRG reports that outbreaks of the sea lice have already been confirmed in Florida and have a good chance of traveling north toward Alabama. Because the tiny larvae are practically invisible to the naked eye, aside from refraining from swimming, we can’t exactly avoid them. To limit the irritation, however, Dr. Reichel recommends removing your bathing suit shortly after swimming and rinsing in fresh water. Officials have also presented alternate solutions, which include rubbing the affected area with sand or the edge of a credit card and flushing the skin with hot water instead of cold.

Look for purple flags or sea lice signs posted at your local beach—if raised, the area may be affected and you are at risk.  


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