The Ministry of Health & Wellness wishes to advise the public of the occurrence of sea lice and jellyfish bites commonly seen during the period of March to August. Sea lice are the larvae of jellyfish which float on the sea surface but are barely visible to the human eye.
Skin contact with sea lice often results in dermatitis or sea bathers’ eruption which happens because the microscopic creatures become entrapped in swimwear. The eruptions produce a pricky sensation which progresses into a bumpy red rash noticeable between 4 to 24 hours following exposure.
Lesions from the skin rash can last up to two weeks. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever (usually 101F) muscle spasms, joint pains and difficulty sleeping.
Treatment for sea bathers’ eruption include antihistamines such as diphenhydramine or Benadryl and corticosteroid creams such as Hydrocortisone 0.5% or 1%. Bathing in colloidal oatmeal preparations and applying calamine lotion to the rash may provide comfort. Persons should avoid scratching or scrapping the affected area as it may cause further skin damage. In severe cases, epinephrine and other intramuscular steroids may be required.
Beachgoers should: be aware of their individual risk, especially if they have strong allergic reactions; avoid wearing t-shirts and one-piece swimsuits while swimming; and immediately after swimming change out of swimwear. Swimwear should be washed in detergent and placed in a dryer as reoccurrence of symptoms may present when wearing a swimsuit that was air-dried.
Persons who suspect that they have been affected by sea lice and are noticing other symptoms along with the rash should seek medical attention.