Stinging seaweed at Kailua Beach burns family for hours

As the summer heat ramps up, more people are hitting the beach. But some are getting an unexpected surprise when they jump into the water.

A family surfing at Kailua Beach told… KHON2 via Report It that they got burning and itching rashes after going into the water, even in areas that were covered by swimsuits.

The Hunt family said they had lived here before and were back in the islands visiting friends.

“We were all in the water and there was a little bit of seaweed floating around,” said Matthew Hunt.

Many people call it stinging seaweed, or stinging limu. Sure enough, that seaweed held true to its name.

The fine, hairlike, dark-brown seaweed, Lyngbya majuscula, is distributed worldwide.

“I started getting that tingling sensation, burning a little bit. Everybody was feeling it, including the kids,” said Hunt.

The family spent the next few hours in major discomfort.

“These are sometimes reported as stinging limu, but in fact, they are algae — a whole family of algae — whereas what is stinging is not the limu itself, but actually hydroids,” said UH research professor Angel Yanagihara.

Some of the symptoms include burning and itching, rash in areas covered by the swimsuit, nose or throat irritation, skin sores, headache, fatigue and swelling of mouth and eyes.

The hydroids are usually found within floating seaweed and are present all year round, but some months of the year see an increase in numbers.

“The hydroids do exist all throughout Hawaii, but they do increase in mass during the summertime,” Yanagihara said.

“This time of year, we do see an increase in our ocean waters of limu, particularly on the windward side at Kailua Beach,” said Shayne Enright, spokesperson, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division.

So while there can be an increase in summer months, should we worry?

“We don’t see it as a big concern as of yet. If that does change then maybe we can look into that,” said Enright.

Swimmers are urged to ask a lifeguard or report any kind of irritations or bites you may receive.

If you are stung by stinging seaweed, experts say to remove any foreign objects from your swimsuit and wash your clothes with soap and water as soon as you get home.

Symptoms usually go away on their own after about five days, but if the itching is bugging you, you can apply a hydrocortisone cream to the area. You should also see a doctor.

View original article at: Stinging seaweed at Kailua Beach burns family for hours

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