Monday, September 01, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2008 belen, Community Member, asks

Q: why am i allergic to sea water?

Aug. 27,08 we had gone to the beach.i was in the water for like 30 minutes.i begin to get really itchy on my legs i ignore it think is was because i had shave my legs.Then a hour later my boyfriend notice that i had rashes around my armpit and arms.This never had happen to me before, so i get out and i notice that my legs were the same.i quickly got out the water and i stayed out side then like 5 minutes it was burning and it was really itchy i couldn't move a lot because it felt really itchy.They told me to drink milk and that it was going to help me with the rashes.About 40 minutes it when away but its still is a little itchy.That i know is that i can't eat fish or shrimp I'm allergic to it.I was think that their was fish around me but i really don't know so please help me!!

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Answers (4)
8/28/08 3:22pm

Hi Belen,

 

Allergic triggers are sometimes tricky to pinpoint. Of course, it is possible that shaving your legs irritated your skin enough for the salt water and/or any sunscreen you used to cause the rash.

 

But I'm also wondering if something called harmful algae blooms, or HAB for short, may have been at work. HAB is often called "red tide", but that is not entirely accurate. A harmful type of red tide is an overgrowth of a type of ocean algae, Karenia brevis (K brevis). It is more concentrated along Gulf of Mexico shorelines and produces highly potent airborne toxins called brevetoxins that can trigger asthma attacks. But not all red tide is harmful.

 

HAB is known to cause eye and throat irritation, but I'm not sure about skin irritation. If your symptoms persist or recur, you may want to contact your doctor.

 

To your health,

Kathi

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JB, Editor
8/29/08 12:32pm

Hi Belen!

 

Kathi is right. And you're not the only one. Another reader on this site had the same question when her son developed a rash kinda of like yours after he was playing in the water at the beach.

 

You should check out the answer to her question about allergies to sea water by clicking here.

 

The short answer is that it's very unlikely that you're allergic to sea water. It could have been a algal bloom, as Kathi mentioned, or a reaction to tiny little jellyfish. Sounds crazy, I know, but click the link above for more information.

 

 

Good luck!

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susieque, Community Member
5/25/10 7:25am

my son is very allergic to seawater touching his skin but he is also allergic to any swimming pool water (I think ones treated with salt) so it is not algae related, I have four chhildren and it is ruining his time on holiday

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Scott, Community Member
4/17/09 1:10pm

I have just become aware of this issue, it seems not many people know about this especialy doctors.  Most of the respondents were trying to look at other environmental factors, and irritation from shaving, chaffing ect.  I have had minor reactions with seawater contact in different oceans, and different locations in the Caribbean.  I did not realize this was a true allergic reaction untill it acutly worsened.  I was on vacation on an eastern caribbean island when it became apparent that I had developed an allergy.  I am not allergic to seafood, iodine, any foods, or drugs that I know of.  The sensitivity seems worst in the lower legs, and knees. I contacted my doctor that day.  My doctor said to wash, use diphenhydramine, steroids, and avoid further contact with seawater.  It took several hours for the symptoms to abate.  I am a paramedic, and have treated many patients with a variety of allergic reactions.  I am certain that this is a true sensitivity and not the product of other environmental factors.  I have a feeling we are going to see more of this.

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Rob A, Community Member
8/24/09 6:59am

My wife suffers from what appears to be prickly heat whenever she gets too close to the sea (can visit the seaside but must stay about a mile from the actual sea).  We live in Kenya and it gets pretty hot here and so we think the blocked sweat glands cuase is not an explanation.  The rash is mainly chest and neck so it seems mostly the bits that get actual exposure to the salty air.  However the rash will sread more as exposure continues.

 

Calomine lotion helps a little and anti-hystamine (piritin type) clears the rash in about a week.

 

Any suggestions? We would love to visit the coast more!

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RiaB, Community Member
8/ 2/11 3:37am

My husband often suffers a similar itchy red rash whenever we visit the sea and even when he worked on our marine aquarium. He doesn't have to go into the water, just the wind from the sea sets it off.  He was a clearance diver and has spent a heck of a lot of time in seawater throughout his life. He has had sypmtoms for around 15 years.  He takes antihistamine when he is exposed to the sea and doesn't then have a problem.  We live on the coast in the UK and regularly surf.  This weekend we forgot the antihistamine and went for a swim and his hands started to tingle.  By the time we got to the van his hands had swollen horribly, his face was starting to swell and his voice changed.  We went straight to A & E who rushed him in and gave him antihistamine.  It has taken two days for the selling to subside.  Please always take antihistamine with you if you have suffered any kind of reaction previously, as it could worsen.

 

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ikella, Community Member
7/14/10 6:06pm

I have had this problem for more than 6 years. I suddenly developed it when i went swimming and came up with red spots around my inner thighs and inner arms and chest.I have been to a skin specialist but he did not know what it was. may i also point out that i am allergice to certain seafoods. I do not know if there is a connection with this but i am afraid it will develop into a major allergic reaction eventually. I am an emergency medical technician but i still cannot find a solution to this. Why did it suddenly happen 6 years ago and not before? i did not change my diet or take any medication...maye it needs to be looked into...thank you for the enquiry.

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ikella, Community Member
7/14/10 6:06pm

I have had this problem for more than 6 years. I suddenly developed it when i went swimming and came up with red spots around my inner thighs and inner arms and chest.I have been to a skin specialist but he did not know what it was. may i also point out that i am allergice to certain seafoods. I do not know if there is a connection with this but i am afraid it will develop into a major allergic reaction eventually. I am an emergency medical technician but i still cannot find a solution to this. Why did it suddenly happen 6 years ago and not before? i did not change my diet or take any medication...maye it needs to be looked into...thank you for the enquiry.

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marcy, Community Member
7/14/10 6:07pm

I have had this problem for more than 6 years. I suddenly developed it when i went swimming and came up with red spots around my inner thighs and inner arms and chest.I have been to a skin specialist but he did not know what it was. may i also point out that i am allergice to certain seafoods. I do not know if there is a connection with this but i am afraid it will develop into a major allergic reaction eventually. I am an emergency medical technician but i still cannot find a solution to this. Why did it suddenly happen 6 years ago and not before? i did not change my diet or take any medication...maye it needs to be looked into...thank you for the enquiry.

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Gordana, Community Member
7/17/10 3:08am

For the last fifteen years I am alergic to the seawater. Every summer either in Australia, Europe, Fiji when I go for swim  the next day the rashes come then they join in into big blotches  only on my legs below the knees but recently on my elbows also.Gets very etchy and hot. It last for week or two. Went to Fiji had a swim  took double dose of Zayrotec day before  thinking I have solved my problem no more rashes but they still come it helped very little  but was gone in 3 days. Had hivefever when younger but it is gone now. As I am perimenipousal now is  it mineral imbalance,hormone imbalance or just plain sensitivity to the seawater.  I have seen doctors had tests done and I am ok . They do not know why is happening.Does anyone has solution?

 

Gordana  

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jodie patterson, Community Member
12/ 7/10 11:04pm

very interesting because I went to Carribean and Hawaii in 2008 and had reactions to the water on my face and chest. Same symptoms itchy rash.  Im a woman so shaving was not a factor.  I have gone bananas trying to figure out what is going on. I am going on another vacation in February and would really like to NOT itch.  I am an EMT and going through nursing school so I know just enough to be scary.  I'm not alergic to anything either so go figure. If anyone finds an answer let me know.  I washed with fresh water and used hydrocortisone.  I won't stay out of the water.  Its not an option.  I'll itch til my face falls off but I wouldn't mind knowing what causes it and why.  

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Khadine, Community Member
9/27/11 11:29am

I have been having this same problem. I grew up on the beach in the caribbean and never had this issue before i relocated to Miami 5 years ago. Everytime i go to the beach without fail i have a horrible icthy rash on my entire arms, hands and ankles which usually last for a week or two. But the thing is that i work on the beach at least 2-3 times per week, i'm a production make up artist and have photoshoots on the beach all week, every week....i never even get in the water....i'm just allergic to the atmosphere on the beach. Therefore i live my everyday life now with a itchy rash...i do't want to change my career, it is my life and what makes me most happy....but this rash is driving me insane. I use calamine lotion, hydrocortisone, antihistamine...nothing helps. I really need a solution as soon as possible

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By belen, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/16/12, First Published: 08/28/08