Have you ever heard of sunbather’s eruption? Not many beach goers in New England have, but apparently it has been around for decades. The name sunbather’s eruption is a great description as to how it affects its victims. Places like Cocoa Beach, Florida fly purple flags when jelly fish are present in the immediate area, according to Brevard County. Unfortunately the larvae that cause the sunbather’s eruption are microscopic and unseen by the naked eye so there is no warning.
A day at the beach can turn your evening into a nightmare, as these unseen baby jellyfish sting any part of your body that is in the salt water. According to an article from Ocean Fit:
“They tend to travel in large groups or “blooms” and will be prevalent in warm summer waters – some ocean swimmers suggest you’ll encounter them when there’s lots of seaweed floating around.”
They’re transparent in water so you don’t know you’ve encountered them until you start to itch, which could star hours after you get out of the water. If you are swimming at high tide, you’ll get the worst of it where the larvae get trapped under your bathing suit, water shoes, etc. where they get trapped.
The worst thing you can do is to scratch them when they itch. The best thing to do is to take off your swimsuit and hose yourself off outside, or in a shower with fresh water as soon as you get out of the salt water. Dry gently with a patting motion rather than rubbing the affected areas.
S.V. of Eastham, Ma doesn’t swim in the ocean waters but loves to walk the sandbars and wade in the tidal pools on the Bayside of Cape Cod. She warns that sunbather’s eruption does not affect just swimmers. She states that she gets stung terribly by these sea lice, or jellyfish larvae. She has tried everything from Vaseline to zinc oxide on her feet before walking on the beach to no avail.
The only products, says S.V., that offer even a tiny bit of (after) relief are over the counter remedies such as calamine lotion, Benadryl or cortisone ointment. She finally called several local pharmacies on the Cape, desperate for help and advice. However, the pharmacists were at a loss on how to treat it, and some had never even heard of it. They advised her to seek help at a walk-in clinic.
Even though sunbather’s eruption is widely known in other areas such as the Caribbean and Florida, there is very little information of this incredibly irritating, wretched sunbather’s eruption in New England. However, that doesn’t stop it from happening at any beach whether swimming in the ocean or walking the sandbars at low tide….so beachgoers beware!