What’s the Deal With ‘Sea Lice’?

Lately, many people have been talking about sea lice and wondering what they are and if it’s anything to worry about in the water around South Walton.

The truth is sea lice are nothing new.

The term ‘sea lice’ is used to describe jellyfish larvae, which have been a minor pest in the Gulf of Mexico for many years, said David Vaughan with the South Walton Fire District.

“The media has really blown up the term ‘sea lice’ this year,” Vaughan said. He said they have been aware of these pests since at least the 50s.

Sea lice travel in isolated packs and can be hard to track because they are often too small to see. Their sting is similar to a jellyfish.

Photo: Ocean Jewel's Images
Photo: Ocean Jewel’s Images

Vaughan said there are some simple steps and remedies if people experience stings.

The larvae can get caught in your bathing suit lining so actually returning to the salt water and rinsing off your suit and skin is helpful. You can also rub sand on the affected area.

After leaving the beach, a hot shower will provide relief. For topical treatments, Vaughan recommends Benadryl, calamine lotion or even rubbing alcohol.

But, don’t use ice. That can make it worse, he said.

For more information, follow South Walton Fire District’s daily beach reports at their website.

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