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Ask A Skin Doctor: Seabather’s Eruption

Dear Doctor

I was in the ocean 4 days ago and there were tons of small strand of jelly creatures. I believe they were jellyfish eggs.

A day later I noticed a rash developing on my side it started out with 2-3 red areas that looks like big pimples, in the days that past the rash has multiplied and now there are over 40 of them all over my body.

My doctor thinks it’s something I got from swimming in the ocean and put me on doxycycline, but I have been out of the water for 4 days and the rash continues to get worse????

The bumps range in size from a grape to a piece of rice and are itchy and the bigger ones are hard and painful, please help.

Seabather’s Eruption

Dear Patient

The condition is known as Seabather’s Eruption.

Seabather’s Eruption Treatment

The treatment of Seabather’s  Eruption includes:

  1. Removing the swimsuit

I have you have not worn the same bathing suit to swim elsewhere even if it is not in the sea because the nematocysts (stinging cells) can become trapped in the fabric and continue to sting.

The swimsuit should be washed in hot, soapy water and dried in a hot dryer before being worn again.

 

  1. Showering with fresh water

Keep the lesions clean by washing them every day with soap and water.

 

  1. Applying antipruritic lotions

Mild corticosteroid lotions can be applied to control the itching since rubbing the skin can cause the nematocysts to sting. A good example is 1% Hydrocortisone lotion which can be applied 2 times a day for 10 days.

 

  1. Taking an antihistamine

Anthistamines can be taken by mouth to reduce the itch. Examples include the non-sedating fexofenadine (Allegra) and the less sedating cetirizine (Zyrtec). The sedating diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can be used to reduce the itch especially if it disturbs sleep.

 

  1. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)

NSAIDS like ibuprofen can be used to relieve the pain and inflammation.

 

  1. Taking systemic corticosteroids

Corticosteroids taken by mouth like Prednisone can be prescribed for severe cases with symptoms like fever, vomiting, headache and weakness.

 

  1. Taking systemic antibiotics

Antibiotics taken by mouth can be given if secondary bacterial infections complicate the condition. Symptoms of infected lesions include increased pain, redness, warmth and swelling as well as drainage of pus.

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