North Carolina News

Mom believes sea lice from NC beach caused irritating rash

CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - Authorities along Pensacola Florida beaches posted purple flags this week, as a warning for sea lice, underwater irritating creatures that have left many swimmers with an itchy rash that can last for hours.

Now, a mother visiting Carolina Beach with her three children believe sea lice is causing them extreme pain and irritation over their bodies.

"I have three children covered in sea lice -- they cry themselves to sleep, It’s like chicken pox," said Caroline Roberts.  "I saw several other children on the beach scratching also.

Roberts claims she spoke to a lifeguard near the Courtyard Marriott in Carolina Beach Thursday who confirmed there was a problem.


WECT reached out to Captain Chad Soward of Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue, who said he has had zero reports of anything revolving sea lice or a swimmer's itch. 

Soward said they will not be putting up any type of warning flag at this time.

"We would probably only put out a warning to swimmers if there were heavy rip currents of course, or perhaps if Portuguese Man O' War's invaded the area," Soward explained.

The Town of Carolina Beach also said they have not had any reports from residents or tourists about the problem.

Roberts said she is treating her three children with Benadryl and prescription steroids but they are not getting relief.

Sea lice are nothing like your typical head lice that often is found in children's hair. They’re tiny jellyfish larvae that can get caught in swimsuits and sting you. Their stings are often worse where swimsuits fit tightly to the body or where there's elastic.

The sea lice are about the size of the head of a pin, so they’re tough to see.

After the sea lice issue in Florida, the Florida Department of Health has come out with some advice on how to deal with them:

  • Women should consider two-piece instead of one-piece bathing suits to reduce the surface area of swimwear that could trap larvae.
  • Swimmers should avoid wearing T-shirts while in the ocean. The shirts can also trap larvae.
  • Swimmers should change out of their bathing suits as soon as possible after leaving the water.
  • Bathing suits should be thoroughly washed with detergent and heat-dried after use to kill any larvae.

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