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What You Should Know About These Nasty, Rash-Causing Sea Lice Reported in Florida Beaches

June 27, 2018, 7:43 PM UTC

There’s a menace lurking in the waters of a Florida panhandle beach, lifeguards are reporting, and it’s called sea lice.

The critters go by other names including thimble jellyfish, and their sting can cause nasty side effects like a rash, itching, and other cumbersome symptoms.

The presence of the sea lice at Pensacola Beach led to lifeguards putting up purple flags to warn about the presence of the stinging creatures, local affiliates reported Tuesday. Sea lice appear in warm saltwater, typically during the March and August and particularly across Gulf of Mexico waters. The larvae can cause lesions referred to as “seabather’s eruption,” according to the Florida Department of Health.

“Probably because of the intense itching, many persons report difficulty in sleeping,” after exposure, writes the agency. “Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, weakcills, muscle spasms, arthralgias, and a sense of malaise. It is unknown whether some of these symptoms reflect the ingestion of infected seawater or are manifestations of a systemic immune response.”

Topical treatments such as rubbing alcohol and Epsom salt solutions can be used to treat sea lice-related irritation, which can last up to several weeks.