Seabathers Eruption

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Seabather's eruption (SBE), also known as "Sea Lice," is pruritic dermatitis found in a bathing suit distribution and at sites of friction after bathing in the ocean. The eruption is caused by two saltwater species of Cnidarians: the thimble Jellyfish (Linuche unguiculata) and a sea anemone (Edwardsiella lineata). Both of these species are small enough to become entrapped underneath swimwear. Pressure, as well as exposure to freshwater, lead to the discharge of a protective organ called a nemocytes. The nemocytes is a stinging organ that releases various antigenic toxins which induce a host immune response. L. unguiculata has been most commonly reported along the southeast coast of the United States, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, but has also been reported in Brazil and Papua New Guinea. E. lineata, on the other hand, has been identified as the culprit of SBE on the east coast of the United States from the mid-Atlantic up through New York. The larval form of L. unguiculata was initially thought to the sole cause of SBE, but there is some evidence implicating other stages of the L. unguiculata life cycle as well. Typically, this eruption is seen during the spring and summer with a higher incidence of cases in May and June. Children less than 15 years old have a higher risk of SBE compared to adults. This is likely due to children spending more time in the ocean compared to adults. Surfers are also at increased risk of SBE and may develop the eruption in locations of friction such as the chest, axilla, and abdomen. Those with a history of SBE are also at increased risk of SBE and tend to have more severe presentations.

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