The sea louse, which the plural is sea lice; is in the family of copepods. It falls in the siphonostomatoida order. Sea lice are oceanic parasites that feed on the epidermal tissue, mucus, and blood of various marine fish. They are among the parasites found in the oceans and can severely affect fish and other marine organisms. Apart from the marine life, they also pose a danger to swimmers and divers in water bodies. They are a threat especially in the warm waters of Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and along both the West and East of the North Coasts of the United States of America. While still young, the larvae have the same stinging cells as the fully grown adults.
Sunbather’s eruption is the name of the rash the larvae causes when it stings. Most often one gets a mark from the sting. In the Gulf and the Caribbean, the leading cause of sea lice is thimble jellyfish larvae. These larvae are sometimes half a millimetre in length or smaller. The larvae could be trapped in between the swim costumes and the body, forcing the stinging cells to fire. The larvae are microscopic and impossible to see in the water, however, are significant enough to be seen by the human eye.
Symptoms of sea lice bites
Symptoms include a severe painful red rash with small blebs and elevated areas of skin. Often, these itchy lesions appear around the body areas covered by the swim suits; this is because most larvae could be concentrating on those areas after being trapped in between the swim costumes and the swimmers body. Severe reactions that come as a result of sea lice bites are chills, nausea, headaches, fever, and vomiting, especially in young children. Medical attention may be required where there have been extreme allergic conditions.
Symptoms openly, do not appear not until six or more hours after the encounter with the larvae. Moreover, they may last from two days to fourteen days. Rashes and blisters could be very itchy and could become infected from continuous scratching.
Sea lice rash – Pictures
Treatment – How to get rid of sea lice rash?
If one is unlucky enough to encounter sea lice while in the water, and not wearing any safe sea lotion, the first symptoms to take note of is a burning sensation in the affected areas. If one suspects that they have encountered sea lice, they should immediately exit the water, remove the swimwear and shower carefully. While still wearing the swim attire, do not rinse with fresh water.
Showering with the swimsuit on will cause the stinging cells in the fabric to fire thus releasing more venom. Do not wear the same costume again, not unless it is thoroughly machine cleaned and dried. Treatment steps are inclusive of bathing in a colloidal oatmeal preparation and later applying calamine lotion. The latter may be ideal for children who benefit from using calamine visual placebo effect.
One should not use calamine and diphenhydramine lotion. An oral antihistamine is used to deflect poisonous effects, especially in kids. Caution is also needed to make sure that steroid creams, combined with oral steroids, are not overused. Additional advice for children is to cut short their fingernails, to avoid scratching of lesions.
There are common home remedies to relieve the pain, and they are meat tenderizer and vinegar. Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine for the itching and hydrocortisone cream like Benadryl for external application may be used. People suffering from extenuations, with or without urticaria, or with recurrences of signs may benefit from the dispense of epinephrine as well as oral or intramuscular steroids. Give a prescription for 1.0% corticosteroid cream. The topical antibiotic cream may be used to reduce the chances of infection.
Divers should avoid putting on T-shirts while in the beach. The use of a topical sunscreen and limiting sun vulnerability protect against sun injury. Women who visit the beach should consider carrying two-piece instead of only one-piece bathing costumes; this is to minimize the surface area of swimwear that could trap larvae when swimming. It is possible that smooth, close fitting weave bathing wear may catch fewer lice than suits with an open-weave. If you are going to swim and dive in locations where sea lice have been reported, you want to make sure you use a swimwear that is less likely to trap the larvae.
After beach exposure, divers need to change their bathing costumes as soon as possible after exiting the water. Most lesions have happened from contact with contaminated swim suits. Removal of susceptible, infected swimwear, followed by a nice shower bath to rinse off loose larvae, should minimize the number of stings. Swimsuits should be washed thoroughly with detergents and heat-dried after use. Some people have experienced a return of signs when putting on suits that had only been dried without washing them. So make sure you wash your swimwear before the next use to avoid re-occurrence of the symptoms.
Filed in: Skin Problems