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Pensacola beach-goers warned about 'sea lice'

But they sound worse than they really are

Beach-goers headed to Pensacola, Florida, are being urged to use extreme caution when taking a dip.

“Sea lice” have been reported along the beaches there, and while that sounds like what nightmares are made of, those familiar with them say the name is worse than the bite -- or sting in this case.

“It’s not so terrifying,” said James Arnold, a curator with the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. “What they’re seeing is a bloom of baby jellyfish.”

Also called “seabather’s eruption,” thousands of larvae will infest coastal waters, which could mean problems hoping for people who want to dive into the water.

"You don't see them. They're transparent, they're clear and they're also microscopic so you don't see them until you get a rash when you get out of the water,” said Dr. James Diaz, with LSU Health.

Diaz said the rash will look like dozens of red ant bite marks.

“It's the pressure of the friction of the bathing suit against your body which causes the larvae to shoot off little barbs, and it's the barbs in the skin that cause the reaction,” he said.

There are some remedies for the rash that can last for a few days.

“If you're getting that itchy feeling before you get out of the water, splash yourself with salt water,” Diaz said. "You want to use a household vinegar the acid neutralizes the poison."

Diaz also advised against scratching the rash and said you can buy an over-the-counter antihistamine to help control any intching.

Arnold added that there are literal signs at the beach to warn you.

"They fly purple flags when there's hazardous marine life,” he said.

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