Sea Lice in Cancun - Prevention

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How to prevent sea lice from spoiling your vacation

In order to help prevent sea lice affecting your cancun vacation it is first important to understand how and why the thimble jellyfish larvae trigger their nematocysts ('stingers' to non biologists) and then see what you can do with your own actions in order to minimise the risk.

Why do sea lice sting?

Each larva has many of these nematocysts or stinging cells located all over it's body. Pressure alone is often enough to cause them to fire. The pressure between your body and your swimsuit, as friction is caused by the action of swimming in the Ocean, is enough to provoke them into firing. Being trapped in body creases such as the joints of the arms and legs, or even against your neck because of long hair, annoys the hell out of them.

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Increased friction such as may be caused by sitting on a surfboard, wearing a wet costume on a lounger, on a bus or in a taxi increases the risk.

What can I do to decrease the risk?

  • When it comes to sea lice, less is more. Because the stinging action is triggered mainly by swimsuits then I would recommend ladies swim naked or at least only wearing a small thong.

    Seriously though, the smaller the amount of skin covered the smaller the area of risk exposed. So certainly avoid T shirts or long baggy shorts.

  • When you've left the water then instead of showering in fresh water with your suit on, make your way back to your room and shower thoroughly after taking off your costume before wearing a dry change of clothes to go back to the beach.

  • If you're away from your room, bring a spare costume with you and change into it before you shower in the fresh water. Wear a dry costume and shower in that. You'll soon dry off again in the hot Cancun sun.

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  • Swimming costumes that have been used during sea lice outbreaks should be thoroughly cleaned with detergent and heat dried. If you just throw it on your balcony and use it the next day, chances are there will be critters left inside and they wont take kindly to their night on the tiles.

  • There is some evidence that suntan lotion inhibits the firing of the stingers, and more evidence that the special formulae of Safe Sea is more effective than regular lotions.

  • If you have a history of severe reactions then perhaps consider confining your swimming activities to the pool if a confirmed outbreak is known of.

  • Be sure to read our sea lice treatment guide before leaving for Cancun