Sea lice stinging Virginia Beach swimmers

Posted at 3:13 PM, Jul 11, 2019

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Unwelcome visitors are irritating beachgoers and keeping some of them out of the water.

Lifeguards at the Oceanfront say this week there has been an increase in reports of people being stung by sea lice.

Sea lice is a word for can be jellyfish larval or blue crab larval. They are commonly found in the Atlantic Ocean, but many swimmers say they have never heard of sea lice before.

At the Oceanfront Thursday, people told News 3 they were only in the water for a few minutes when they began to feel a tingling sensation.

"It felt like sand on your clothes and then it started to feel like things were biting you," explained Cade Welsh, who has lived in Virginia Beach for the last four years and had never heard of sea lice. "If you, like, scratch, it will feel like sand and if you look, you'll see a clear thing with blue eyes."

Related: Confirmed cases of flesh-eating bacteria continue to grow in Virginia

A group of girls visiting the Oceanfront from New York were seen running towards the showers on Thursday seeking relief.

"We started running up to the shore, and then we felt around and there was stuff crawling on us," one girl said.

It is unclear why there has been an increase of sea lice at the beach this week, but lifeguards say if you are stung, the best thing to do is rinse yourself and your bathing suit with fresh water.

The creatures are tiny, so they often get stuck in the netting of bathing suits and people's hair. The most common side effect is a rash or bumps, but they typically disappear shortly after rinsing with fresh water.

If you need extra assistance, find a lifeguard immediately.