Skin Rash From Snorkeling?

by Brandy
(Charleston, SC)

Can you get a skin rash from snorkeling?

My husband and I recently went snorkeling in Bermuda and I came home with a rash that lasted nearly 2 weeks. I did get tangled up in some rocks trying to help my husband, who is a bit less experienced, with his equipment. I was so worried about him putting his hands on something he shouldn't that I wasn't minding the waves and caught a few good ones. At one point we were both thrown into a large rock on top of one another and had a few scratches and bruises from it. Nothing serious, but we cleaned them well and put some antibiotic ointment on it just in case.

Two days later we went out again, the water was less rough that day and we didn't snorkel around rocks above the surface. I'm fairly certain I didn't touch anything that day but I started itching head to toe by the time I got showered afterward. While I itched like I was covered in hives it took almost 3 more days to become visible. Once it was visible it was most concentrated on the insides and backs of my legs and arms.

Did not appear to be jellyfish larvae as it was literally everywhere and not concentrated mostly inside my swim suit. When it became visible it looked first like tiny pink spots with white around each spot then became tiny dark red spots.

My doctor had no idea what it was and chocked it up to laundry detergent or some other environmental irritant but the timing was too close for me to believe that. A round of steroids later and the visible rash is gone but the itching reappears every couple of days. It has been nearly 3 weeks now. We did encounter a few tiny pieces of seaweed but nothing big and I don't think I ever touched any of it.

Any similar experiences? If so, did you figure out what it was?

Comments for Skin Rash From Snorkeling?

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Nov 04, 2015
Yes indeed
by: Margaret

Several years ago I was snorkeling in Hawaii and got a rash. At first we thought bug bites, but my husband didn't have any sign. We had some steroid liquid, and my husband helped me put it on. It was as if he was playing connect the dots. Eventually I went to a doctor on the island who gave me stronger steroidal treatment but had no idea what it was.

I will be curious what others say. I wondered if it was "baby" jellies in the water stinging me.

Nov 11, 2015
Skin Rash Snorkeling Lembeh Strait
by: Anonymous

Yes, I received a skin rash snorkeling in Lembeh Strait, July 2014. My symptoms mirror yours except I was stung around the face, neck and chest. I was wearing a dive skin and I think they could only sting me where the skin was exposed. I felt the stings in the water as well. I used a betamethasone cream that worked right away to suppress the itching, took about 2 weeks to go away. Haven't a clue what it was!

Nov 29, 2015
Yes, Me Too
by: Snorkeling Fish

I've gotten persistent tormenting rashes twice while snorkeling, both times in the Grenadines where the water is warm. After trying every anti-itch med I brought with me, I finally asked the resort to go to a larger nearby island and buy me a lot of Epsom Salt.

I used the same remedy as my doctor suggested when I was covered in chigger bites and could get no peace: draw bath water as hot as you can stand it, pour in a lot of Epsom Salt while the water is running, lay in the water covering as much of your body as possible and stay there until the water has cooled to the point of being uncomfortable. As you stand up, you find you are itch free long enough to get some sleep!

I was told it was sea lice, which you cannot readily see.

Apr 28, 2017
by: Anonymous

Ocean rashes can be caused by seaweed, specifically the microorganisms in some types of stinging seaweed in the genus Lyngba.

Aug 15, 2017
Pretty Common
by: TrvlAnywhere

This is actually not at all uncommon. Here's a good article exploring the topic in depth.

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