[Updated] Numerous reports of ‘sea lice’ are popping up across Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry messenger and email, with many saying they believe they were affected after swimming in the water while attending the Non-Mariners Race in Mangrove Bay in Sandys.
A hospital spokesperson confirmed they had a number of cases of sea lice in both the KEMH Emergency and the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre, however said it was not more than they usually see.
Sea lice, also referred to as seabathers eruption, is a form of dermatitis that causes itchy skin and appears on covered areas of the skin [under bathing suits, shirts, and long hair], rather than on exposed areas as with swimmers itch, and is associated with bathing in coastal waters.
Sea lice is not just a Bermuda problem, the video below is a U.S news report describing the issues beach goers experience in Florida with sea lice:
One method of prevention – which we are not advocating, just mentioning – appears to be to swim naked.
”In the interest of good public health research and practice, we feel compelled to note that abandoning swimming garments altogether, usually referred to as ‘nude bathing’ or ‘skinny dipping,’ might go a long way to reducing the occurrence of this disease,” the U.S. Public Health Service professional journal said.
”It’s true. If you don’t wear a swimsuit, you probably won’t get a sea lice rash,” said Dr. Jean Malecki, director of a Florida County Health Department.
Update 11:51am: Dr Roslyn Bascombe Adams, Deputy Chief of Emergency at KEMH, said, “We have had a number of cases of sea lice in Emergency at the hospital and the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre, but not more than we usually see.”
“Sea lice are the larvae of jellyfish which can get caught between bathing suit and skin. If contact is prolonged, the skin erupts in a fine red rash and itching can occur – usually in the distribution of the bathing suit.”
“Cases should be treated by removing the suit, washing the area with water and vinegar solution and using topical 1% hydrocortisone cream for the itching.”
“Swimsuits need to be washed in hot water before use again to decrease the chance of recurrent symptoms when used again. This care can be done over the counter at a pharmacy and rarely is there a genuine need to come to the ER,” concluded the doctor.