Sea lice reported along Florida beaches

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Spokeswoman Maggie Hall said sea lice are pests that beachgoers should be aware of but have to accept.

Sea lice will leave you with red itchy bumps after a dip in our warm waters-especially during the summer months. Well, if you are hanging out on the coast of northwest Florida you may now have an excuse not to. Some swimmers report feeling a slight prickling sensation while still in the water.

Sea lice are barely visible to the naked eye.

The Pensacola Beach Lifeguards posted a warning to its Facebook page Tuesday, stating that purple flags were being flown at the beach to caution swimmers of the sea lice, which can cause rashes and irritation.

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Purple flags were flying at beaches along the Florida coastline Wednesday to indicate that potentially hazardous marine life could be lurking in the water. They are the larvae of the thimble jellyfish, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Florida's DoH says they can be prevalent from March through August at 250 miles of Florida beaches from the southern Atlantic up to the Panhandle. Those who come in contact with sea lice can experience itching, stinging and dermatitis, an itchy rash on red and swollen skin, which typically occurs four to 24 hours after exposure.

In some people, the rash may be accompanied by symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and muscle spasms, and they may have trouble sleeping. There is also evidence that sunscreen can help protect the skin from stings.

"Its one of those things that live in the water and we encourage people to shower off and wear their swimsuits and not to wear shirts in the water", Hall said. 'You are a land animal and the Gulf is not our native environment'.

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"They aren't very intense, which is why we call them sea lice and not sea hornets or sea wasps", he said.

Wash your bathing suit thoroughly with detergent and then use heat to dry it. Air drying isn't enough.

Stings from the larvae can result in a rash known as "seabather's eruption". Symptoms of "swimmer's itch" include tingling or burning skin, small reddish pimples and tiny blisters.

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