From the Flotsam & Jetsam page of Sandy's Abaco Guide


On Sep 17, 2006, at 6:21 PM, Gregory Rawling wrote: (Follow up editing Oct 1, 2012 - "DO NOT SHOWER WITHOUT THE VINEGAR FIRST!!!!")

Dear Sandy,

As a Scuba Dive Master, Resident of Florida since 1992, and Clinical Chemist & Biology Instructor our first experience with "Sea Lice" was 1993 as a result of 2 hrs. of snorkeling off Pompano Beach. My wife was wearing a two piece suit. I had the usual one piece (male version.) This is my story and you may use it on your site.

We trudged away from the surf and took a fresh water shower. We dried off and headed for home. Then the itching started. Pat wasn't talking as the itching, which was becoming increasingly sever was NOT in "lady like places"! She had a job interview the following Monday and conceded that it was the worst experience of her life in spite of numerous layers of cortisol creams. When examined in a mirror, the reactions on her breasts resembled ground beef and were severely augmented by the usual women's undergarments.

I went on a mission to figure out what caused this and was frustrated by how little was known at that time. I finally stumbled upon an article out of the U. of Miami, author escapes me, describing the jelly fish larvae. I then read a report from the State of Florida.

Here is the short version.

1. Jelly fish and their larvae contain toxins.

2. The larvae get trapped under garments in large numbers. Exposed skin is considerable less affected. The collars of wetsuits, loose fitting wetsuits, swim tops and bottoms and all manner of other garments.

3. The larvae release the most toxins when exposed to fresh water due to osmotic explosion. This means that the fresh water shower with a bathing suit tight against your body is NOT recommended at all. It just releases the toxins and holds them against your skin! I might add, this does ensure inflammation is in socially, highly uncomfortable and unacceptable places.

The State of Florida reported "Swimming without garments is the best method of avoiding serious "sea lice". (Really - that is what the article said and it is correct if not a bit illegal in most of Florida and the Bahamas!)

4. Removing the suit, drying it, and returning to your body does NOT remove the toxins. It simply reapplies them to your body in the above mentioned BAD places. It should be washed properly before additional uses.

5. The toxin is protein in nature and will respond to acid denaturation. This is the most highly kept secret in Florida. Hence, if you feel a few stings when 1st exiting the ocean, (usually in the neck area) grab a spray bottle that contains white vinegar. (Acetic Acid) It works on regular Jelly Fish stings as well. Soak your clothing and body under the suit and any place it comes in contact with clothing thoroughly. Do NOT be shy or try to conserve the vinegar. I mean everywhere!!! Get right down and in there! You might smell like a garden salad but it is far superior to having important female and male parts looking like uncooked ground beef and feeling like they are being cooked right on your body!

The cortisone only "sorta works" and the suffering can last a week to 10 days. Allergy medications help some and the itching will keep you awake allow you to operate machinery as long as you can do it with one hand because you are scratching with the other hand.

6. You may now rinse in fresh water and again remove the suits etc. immediately if not sooner. If you can shower without the garment, so much the better. (Hairy men do better than smooth skinned women. The Larvae are on the hairs.)

If no vinegar is available:

7. Remove the "larvae infested clothing" with vinegar rince first BEFORE taking the fresh water shower. Rinse then with a lot of water and rinse of everywhere and under everything. Do NOT miss those more private areas out of some sort of modesty. Otherwise, your modesty will be reward in a matter of hours. Some careful trickery with a towel can permit this. Note: replacement with another garment is again, recommended for legal reasons. Again, wash the suit, wet suits and skins. Don't just rinse them.

8. The Bottom Line: Take a spray bottle of white vinegar on board or to the beach with your other gear. It does no good at home awaiting a gourmet salad.

I have been free of an major "sea lice" incidents since I figured out the Vinegar Solution. (15 years). I might add the price is right.

Gregory Rawling, Delray Beach Florida

Follow up: On Oct 12, 2006, at 6:21 PM:

My wife and I sorta laugh about it and then she recalls the experience. I do hope it helps some people. The local Dive boats all carry vinegar now.

Follow up: On Oct 18, 2006, at 6:21 PM:

There may be a preventative solution......

I have no personal experience with this idea but it fits from a medical and chemical standpoint. Mineral Oil or any kind of oil, (short of used motor oil) spread on the skin is non-polar. Most proteins are polar in nature and therefore the protein toxins will have great difficulty getting in contact with your skin due to the non-polar nature of the mineral oil. This is a good thing! It may be a bit messy, meaning, getting it off will require soap and not just a rinse in fresh water. (Read that sentence again and think about 10 days of itching.) Again, don't go modest here. It is under the garments that need it the most. Combine prevention with mineral oil (olive oil will do)....