Seabather's eruption

Seabather's eruption is caused by bites from a variety of organisms, depending upon the region. For example, in the Long Island region of the US, the planula larval stage of the organisms of the phylum Cnidaria seem to be the offending organsims, whereas in Florida, the planula larvae of the jelly fish, Linuche unguiculata, have been implicated.


Pruritus and erythematous macular or urticarial papules develop in the distribution of the bathing suit as well as the axillae, neck, and flexural areas, within minutes to hours of leaving the ocean water. The most severe reactions tend to occur where the bathing suit presses against the skin, e.g. waist, buttocks, elastic thigh band, abdomen, or breasts. Systemic symptoms such as fever, chills, malaise, nausea, and abdominal cramps may rarely accompany the reaction. The distribution is in contrast to swimmer's itch (cercarial dermatitis) in which the lesions occur in skin not covered by the bathing suit.

Lyngbya dermatitis can cause an itchy/burning rash in covered areas that mimics sea bather's eruption.


Topical and systemic steroids may help. Antihistamines and topical antipruritics have been suggested. Removing the bathing suit promptly after leaving the water may help to limit the eruption.


An. Acad. Bras. Ciênc. vol.87 no.1 Rio de Janeiro Mar. 2015 Epub Feb 10, 2015

Rev. Soc. Bras. Med. Trop. vol.40 no.1 Uberaba Jan./Feb. 2007

Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo vol.51 no.3 São Paulo May/June 2009


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