Complaints of sea lice popping up across the Jersey Shore. What to do if you are a victim

Lifeguards across the Jersey Shore, from Belmar to Cape May County, have dealt with complaints since the beginning of the month of sea lice.

News 12 Staff

Aug 11, 2020, 11:19 AM

Updated 1,340 days ago

Share:

Lifeguards across the Jersey Shore, from Belmar to Cape May County, have dealt with complaints since the beginning of the month of sea lice.
“It’s pretty much a spring-loaded harpoon full of poison,” says Kerry Anderson, biology instructor with Jenkinson's Aquarium.
The tiny creatures are basically invisible when in the water, and when stuck to your body -- they're the size of sand grains. But if you look closely, they move. 
The creatures are actually jellyfish larvae, and they get stuck on your body under your bathing suit. The larvae contain stinging cells and when agitated or touched, they inject the toxins into your skin. The larvae are juvenile thimble jellyfish, more commonly found in the Gulf of Mexico and off of Florida, but back in July, the warm currents carried them to the Jersey Shore.
Most people complain of itching and burning, but for others -- it can leave nasty welts all over your body.
Swimmers will start to notice something isn't right after being in the water for a few minutes, but it's when they get out when they feel the itching and stinging after the larvae become agitated from being trapped between the skin and the fabric. 
“They are getting stuck in people's bathing suits,” says Anderson. “If it's in your bathing suit, it's going to touch your skin more, and the more contact you have with it, the more stings you're going to get.”
If you are a victim, get home and take off your bathing suit right away. Shower and wash the suit in hot water with detergent to kill the remaining larvae. Also tell a lifeguard so they can warn other swimmers.
"The best thing to do is hot shower, wash your bathing suit in detergent and hot water and if you're having a real major reaction or allergic reaction, you want to go get checked out,” says Jenkinson's Chief Lifeguard Dean Albanese. “But over-the-counter antihistamines for anti-inflammatory would work fine on any of this swelling.”
Experts at Jenkinson's Aquarium say it's important to make sure you get all of the larvae out of your bathing suit because even after they're dead, they can still sting you.


More from News 12
1:37
Rain, wind bring some power outages to Monmouth and Ocean counties

Rain, wind bring some power outages to Monmouth and Ocean counties

2:22
STORM WATCH: Rain, wind and mostly cloudy skies in New Jersey

STORM WATCH: Rain, wind and mostly cloudy skies in New Jersey

0:30
Police: 2 teens arrested for breaking into Montclair home and stealing car

Police: 2 teens arrested for breaking into Montclair home and stealing car

1:35
Authorities: Garbage truck crashes into Barnegat Toll Plaza

Authorities: Garbage truck crashes into Barnegat Toll Plaza

0:18
Police: Multiple bear sightings reported in Park Ridge

Police: Multiple bear sightings reported in Park Ridge

0:21
Police: 2 suspects wanted for armed robbery in Bayonne

Police: 2 suspects wanted for armed robbery in Bayonne

0:16
Man sentenced to 15 years in prison for hit-and-run that killed teen in South River

Man sentenced to 15 years in prison for hit-and-run that killed teen in South River

0:21
Car crashes, turns on its side on Pulaski Skyway

Car crashes, turns on its side on Pulaski Skyway

0:14
Caught on camera: Car crashes into parked vehicles in Guttenberg

Caught on camera: Car crashes into parked vehicles in Guttenberg

2:11
Police: Two men stole about 140 shopping carts from Rochelle Park ShopRite

Police: Two men stole about 140 shopping carts from Rochelle Park ShopRite

0:20
VIDEO: Rare fireball seen streaking across New Jersey sky

VIDEO: Rare fireball seen streaking across New Jersey sky

2:11
Dead humpback whale washes up on Long Beach Island Thursday morning

Dead humpback whale washes up on Long Beach Island Thursday morning

0:17
Police: Student from Columbia HS in Maplewood assaulted by students from different school

Police: Student from Columbia HS in Maplewood assaulted by students from different school

0:18
Prosecutor: Dirt bike rider killed in Clifton crash Wednesday night

Prosecutor: Dirt bike rider killed in Clifton crash Wednesday night

0:54
Jersey Proud: Remains of sailor from NJ killed in Pearl Harbor attack finally laid to rest

Jersey Proud: Remains of sailor from NJ killed in Pearl Harbor attack finally laid to rest

2:46
JCP&L trims trees in New Jersey towns to reduce risk of branches causing power outages

JCP&L trims trees in New Jersey towns to reduce risk of branches causing power outages

0:47
Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife will have separate bribery trials, judge rules

Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife will have separate bribery trials, judge rules

Matchbox Twenty to play at Newark’s Prudential Center June 27

Matchbox Twenty to play at Newark’s Prudential Center June 27

1:57
Museum dedicated to the history of Paterson’s Hinchliffe Stadium opens its doors

Museum dedicated to the history of Paterson’s Hinchliffe Stadium opens its doors

1:57
‘Hate and violence have no place here.’ Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University addresses break-in, vandalism

‘Hate and violence have no place here.’ Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University addresses break-in, vandalism