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Seabather's eruption is a rash that occurs when a swimmer is stung by marine life larvae. The condition has many names, including sea lice, pika-pika, sea poisoning, sea critters, and ocean itch.
Two types of marine life that generally cause seabather's eruption are:
Other types of marine life may also cause this rash.
Shortly after being stung, a swimmer may complain of skin discomfort. The rash develops in a few minutes to 12 hours after swimming. The rash consists of raised, hard or soft bumps, or blisters of different shapes and sizes that appear very red and may be extremely itchy. The larvae can become trapped in the fabric of a swimsuit, under swim caps and fins, and along the cuff edges of wet suits and T-shirts. The rash often appears in areas of the body that were covered.
Occasionally, other symptoms may occur with the rash, including nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, a general feeling of illness (malaise), pink eye (conjunctivitis), and urethritis, the inflammation of the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside of the body (urethra). Fever may occur, particularly in children.
Home treatment for seabather's eruption can help ease your discomfort and prevent other problems. Try the following treatments.
If larvae are on your skin, rubbing will cause them to sting.
Since larvae can become trapped in the fabric of your suit, it is important to remove a contaminated suit to prevent more stings.
If available, rinse your suit in household vinegar or rubbing alcohol.
Wash your suit in hot, soapy water and dry it in a dryer, if possible, before you wear it again.
Apply soap and vigorously scrub your skin.
Do not shower with a contaminated suit on. If larvae are trapped in the fabric of a suit, a freshwater shower will cause the larvae to sting.
These medicines can help control itching.
Do not use the hydrocortisone cream on children younger than age 2 unless your doctor tells you to. Do not use in the rectal or vaginal area in children younger than age 12 unless your doctor tells you to. Also, don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
This can help relieve pain.
Wash it every day with soap and water.
These symptoms include:
The rash will usually go away in 10 to 14 days.
Current as of: March 3, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineDavid Messenger MD - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine
Current as of: March 3, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & David Messenger MD - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine
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