Sea Lice Confirmed on Florida Panhandle Beaches

sea lice
(Photo: Twitter / @wsbtv)

Summer is here and the beach is calling! Waves are crashing. The sun is shining. The water looks so refreshing. Everyone just wants to go in for a swim!

However, now might NOT be the time if you’re planning on visiting one of the popular Florida panhandle beaches.

Sea lice has been confirmed in South Walton and Santa Rosa Beaches in Florida and is moving west toward Alabama according to WKRG-TV. What does this mean for beachgoers? If you see a purple flag, you might want to stay out of the water!

Sea lice, also known as beach lice, are small creatures nearly invisible in the water. Many times swimmers won’t know that they’ve come in contact with them until it’s too late. Sea lice tend to get stuck underneath swimming suits, causing skin irritation and a rash known as Seabather’s Eruption.

Severe reactions to Seabather’s Eruption can cause fever, chills, nausea, and headaches, but more often than not, it will only leave an itchy irritating rash across the skin. Experts say that the best way to get relief from the rash is to rub the area with sand or a credit card, then flush with hot water — NOT cold water.

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These sea lice tend to appear in areas of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean when the weather starts to get warmer. The pests aren’t actually bugs like their name suggests, but actually jellyfish larvae. Much like their older brethren, they actually sting you, not bite.

So, if you plan on spending any time near the beaches along the Gulf, remember — if you see a purple flag, it might be best to avoid the water!