Can Someone Be Allergic To Ocean Water?

Question

Asked by Christina

Can Someone Be Allergic To Ocean Water?

My son is 4, we have went to the beach many times and he was fine. But the last 2 times I took him and he got in the water then started screaming I thought something stung him, but both legs looked the same, they were really red and blotchy and swelled up a little bit, I rinsed his legs with my water bottle and he just kept on screaming. Then the next time we went it was the same thing. He loves to eat seafood and he loves the beach, but i am scared now to take him. I have never heard of anyone being allergic to the salt water. Please help me!!!!

Answer

Hi Christina,

That does sound scary.

First, I hope you took your son to see his doctor after this happened. What did the doctor say?

Second, it's very unlikely to that your son is allergic to sea water, according to information I found from the Amercian Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

It could be that there was something in the water. Was he stung by a jellyfish?

There's also a strange reaction known as "seabather's eruption." According to studies cited by AAAAI, seabather's eruption is a rash that happens after someone is exposed to ocean water and usually covers the area of the body covered by the bathing suit (although children may have reactions all over). According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the rash may be caused by an organism that may be too tiny to see, but will eventually grow into an adult sea anemones called Edwardsiella lineata. Some sea anemones can hurt people with poisonous stings, but I'm not sure if this particular anemone does that. In any event, the researchers suspect that the tiny larval stage of this anemone may be what causes the rash.

According to the studies, there's very little that can be done for the rash and it usually goes away on its own in about 12 days.

Either way, when you're dealing with a child, don't take any chances. Talk to your doctor about what happened and how your son is doing now. Your doctor may be able to help you with tips for avoiding this again. If you still have questions about allergies, you may want to get a referal to an allergist, who can do allergy testing to help figured out if your son is allergic to fish or shellfish of any kind -- talk to your doctor about the possibilities and the best couse of action for your son.