As if an increase in shark attacks this year were not enough to scare swimmers out of the ocean, now swarms of sea lice have been popping up all over the Florida panhandle.

Sea lice — or beach lice — cause lesions on swimmer’s backs through microscopic larvae that can get trapped under bathing suits, t-shirts or even hair. On the skin these larvae form an itchy rash that can developed into abrasions. 

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Technically, sea lice is the larvae of jellyfish and other types of stinging fish. It’s these  stinging cells that are present in the larvae cause the allergic reaction. Quite fascinating really, but not something you really care too much about when your back is covered in welts.

The presence of sea lice are known to go away for periods of up to 20 years, reappearing when ocean currents shift, according to Florida Parks and Recreation. 

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Where sea lice are occurring, lifeguards are putting up purple flags. It’s just a question of how far the warnings will need to go. So far, the outbreaks have been identified in beaches toward Alabama, according to a local NBC affiliate in Santa Rosa.

The best way to protect against sea lice is to shower well after swimming in the ocean. You didn’t think we would suggest not swimming in the ocean did you?

Photo credit: (above) Pixabay (below) Wikimedia

sea lice