Sea lice are infesting Gulf Coast beaches

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The Gross Thing Lurking In Florida Water

Tiny creatures are lurking in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The nearly invisible creatures are known as sea lice and can cause an itchy rash and even flu like symptoms.

Although the small creatures are almost undetectable to the human eye, their sting packs a huge punch. The itchy rash they cause, known as "ocean itch" or "seabather's eruption," can last for days but luckily it goes away on its own. Applying an oatmeal preparation and calamine lotion can soothe the itch.

According to Florida Department of Public Health, "outbreaks of seabather's eruption occur intermittently between March and August, but they appear to peak during early April through early July."

The appearance of sea lice during the summer months is caused by shifts in south Florida's current and the highest incidence of cases of seabather's eruption occur in Palm Beach County and Northern Broward County.

Sea lice are the larvae of adult jellyfish and their small size sometimes causes them to get stuck between a swimmers' skin and their swim suit, clothes or hair, which causes them to sting.

Swimmers can reduce their chances of getting seabather's eruption by avoiding wearing T-shirts while in the ocean and changing out of their bathing suits as soon as possible after exiting from the water.

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