‘Sea lice’ stinging swimmers off Virginia Beach

Swimmers Off Virginia Beach are Getting Stung by ‘Sea Lice’

Swimmers along parts of Virginia Beach are reporting an increase in stings and rashes caused by “sea lice.”

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Scientists cringe at the term “sea lice,” which are actually a parasite that attach themselves to fish. The stinging sensation and rash that swimmers experience is caused by thimble jellyfish larvae and is called “seabather's eruption.”

Researchers say there is typically an increase in the affliction from March to August, and especially in the early part of July.

"It felt like sand on your clothes and then it started to feel like things were biting you," Cade Welsh, a Virginia Beach resident for four years, told WDBJ. "If you, like, scratch, it will feel like sand and if you look, you'll see a clear thing with blue eyes."

The rash often can be treated with hydrocortisone and antihistamine creams available at most drug stores, according to the Florida Department of Health. If you have symptoms, you may need to see a dermatologist, the department said.

Swimmers can reduce their risk of being stung by not wearing T-shirts in the water, using sunscreen, practicing good hygiene and taking off wet swimsuits immediately after getting out of the ocean, the department reported.