What are sea lice and should we be terrified of them?

JUST when you thought you could get excited for summer (thirteen more days, people) and your pending vacation to some dreamy island, today we’ve learned that we could be joined by some pesky friends on our travels. According to the Florida Department of Health (DOH), sea lice are on the rise in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

GROSS. But, wait, what exactly are sea lice?

Sea lice are only like head lice, really, in that they are small little pests that cause discomfort, but sea lice are actually worse — they can wreak havoc on your entire body, not just your scalp and neck, and, per KTRK – TV Houston, can also cause blistering and flu like symptoms in some extreme cases! WHAT?


What makes these little sea scoundrels so much worse than other lice? That’s because sea lice are actually baby jellyfish (adult larvae, to be exact) that are no larger than the size of a flake of pepper, says the DOH. These “thimble jellyfish” can get lodged in your bathing suit, which health officials have compared to a sea lice net, and sting repeatedly. Because of this, DOH recommends wearing the TINIEST bathing suit you can. Get to shopping.

While biologists have reported that sea lice are on the rise, they aren’t exactly a new thing, so thankfully some treatment options ARE known. If you are unlucky enough to fall victim to these creepy little crawlers — you’ll find out within four to 24 hours after exposure — here’s how to deal with it, according to ABC News:

The rash from sea lice, while a nuisance, often goes away on its own. The Florida DOH recommends treating the rash with an antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream. Bathing in colloidal oatmeal and applying calamine lotion can also help soothe the rash or itchiness.

Stay safe out there, people. Don’t let those little dudes ruin your summer.

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