Sea lice a danger to Gulf Coast swimmers - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Sea lice a danger to Gulf Coast swimmers

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Anyone thinking of taking a day at the beach for a summer swim along the Gulf Coast should beware of sea lice.

It’s not the type of lice typically found on the scalp but actually microscopic jelly fish larvae.

Dr. David Roy, a dermatologist from Pine Belt Dermatology, said sea lice can sting and cause a painful rash called sunbather’s eruption.

“It can be very severe though," Roy said. "Some people have very mild outbreaks but some will have a severe outbreak of itching, pain, sometimes fever and pain and sometimes have the flu."

The larvae usually get caught underneath a bathing suit and can sting if the bathing suit is left on for a long period of time. Roy said it’s important to rinse off right after leaving the beach water.

“You want to wash off with either warm clean sea water or warm shower water,” Roy said.

Doctors said the best way to treat the rash is to use over the counter creams to reduce itchiness. The rash can last up to a week, but people should get it checked out by a dermatologist if it lasts longer.

“You’ll want to stay out of the water, stay out of the sun,” Roy said. “Moisturize. Use topical cortisone creams and antihistamines like Allegra,  Benadryl or Claritin.”

Sea lice are the most active from April until August, making it important to start preparations now.

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