Swimmers beware – it is Sea Itch season and some swimmers are suffering its irritating effects.
According to Assistant Director Research and Assessment at the Department of Environment Tim Austin, this is the season for the complaint, which usually comes about shortly after Easter in April or May.
Sea Itch comes from the larvae of the thimble jellyfish. The microscopic larvae can get trapped in clothing, hair and the folds of swimsuits, causing anything from mild to intense itching.
One of the signs that the larvae may be present in water is if the thimble jelly fish are present. These are very small, brown coloured jelly fish.
The Sea Itch is a marine borne sting unlike Swimmer’s Itch, which is a different freshwater version.
Once on your skin, the sting can survive although the organism will die, said Mr. Austin. This is what makes washing swim clothes very important afterwards.
If left untreated, the itching may last on your skin for up to three days or so. Mr. Austin pointed out that some people react worse than others to Sea Itch, and in a bad case a person can develop a fever with it. In a mild case the itch can be similar to a mosquito bite.
Local pharmacies will be able to provide effective treatment for Sea Itch, including anti-histamines and Calamine lotion.
There has been some evidence that ammonia-based products can relieve the itch also.
Vaseline is sometimes used on the skin as a preventive measure against Sea Itch.