How To: Understand and deal with Sea Lice

I would have mentioned this previously if it weren’t for the Project Copper posts, but the sea-lice have been back for the past two weeks, as always at this time of the year when the water reaches its warmest. 13.9 degrees Celsius at the Guillamene the other day, the first time I’ve measured it in months, though there have been occasional sunny days where the water was warmer. I’m out of the water this week with an actual injury though, first time in ages, a sprain above my left scapula, tried swimming the other day and had to turn back after just ten minutes.

Aah, that itching sensation while you are swimming and just after emerging.

Sea lice is a generic term and for us in Ireland is not as severe as other warmer waters. It can mean tiny jellyfish polyps or anemones.

The bites are worse if you are wearing a wetsuit as the lice get trapped under it and bite more but they can get trapped under swim togs also.


I’ve haven’t heard of anyone in the last few years in Ireland who’s had a long-lasting reaction to them, also unlike warmer waters, though I do recall they were worse two years ago and I do seem to have picked up an itch under the hairline at the back of my neck where my hair is exposed, and of course I’m noticing it now because I’m writing this.

I make sure to have a quick fresh water shower (from a bottle) after emerging at the moment, and am fine after that. I haven’t ever felt the need to rinse with vinegar also.

I’ve seen less experienced open water swimmers asking questions about this though, after experiencing it in warmer waters, and I realised I hadn’t mentioned it before.

There is a lotion called Safe Sea that apparently works well for this and jellyfish stings, I know Danny Walsh tried it in Portugal and was pleased with it.

Sea Lice

I do like to imagine it’s these guys attacking me though. Ugly/handsome little fecker.

Jellyfish Lifecycle

7 thoughts on “How To: Understand and deal with Sea Lice

  1. Pingback: Sea Lice, Seabather’s Eruption and Swimmer’s Itch | LoneSwimmer

  2. In the sea u just get jelly stings , in lakes I get tiny little bites all over my torso as if something has got trapped under my togs , any ideas ??


  3. They’re horrible things…I ended up having to go to the lake because I got bitten so much the year I was training, I still have marks from some of them. And I seem to get bitten every swim I do at the moment. Think it’s time to invest in a high-necked swimsuit!


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