Sea lice reported along northwest Florida beaches

This microscopic image shows adult thimble jellyfish or sea lice

Pensacola Beach lifeguards are warning swimmers about stinging sea lice.

Once they get caught in your bathing suit, they can sting repeatedly while you're in the water.

Florida saw its worst sea lice outbreak in 1995, when an infestation spanned the state's waterfront from the Florida Keys to Jacksonville.

Purple flags were flying at beaches along the Florida coastline Wednesday to indicate that potentially hazardous marine life could be lurking in the water.

Sea lice appear to the naked eye as a "speck of finely ground pepper" floating on the surface of the water, according to the Florida Department of Health, with a size approximating that of a pinhead.

Sea lice can not live outside of the water, however they cause human skin to break out with itchy rashes that have bumps and welts. The organisms tend to get trapped between swimmers' bathing suits and skin where friction can cause their cells to "fire", or sting.

In some people, the rash may be accompanied by symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and muscle spasms, and they may have trouble sleeping.

"Its one of those things that live in the water and we encourage people to shower off and wear their swimsuits and not to wear shirts in the water", Hall said. There is also evidence that sunscreen can help protect the skin from stings. 'You are a land animal and the Gulf is not our native environment'. Treatment typically includes antihistamine and medications to lessen the itching.

If you're taking a dip in the ocean, remove your T-shirt before going swimming. We also have purple flags in the air due to sea lice (small jelly fish) please keep in mind to drink plenty of water and apply lots of sunscreen. The condition - also known as seabather's eruption - is common at the beginning of the summer, according to Florida's Poison Control Centers. Those who contract the rash or come in contact with the sea lice should be sure to wash their bathing suit and dry it with high heat to make sure there are no leftover sea lice.



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