‘Stinging Seaweed’ in Hawaii

stinging seaweed
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Have you heard of Stinging Seaweed? If so, you may wonder if it’s a danger during your Hawaii vacation. Let’s find out!

Lyngbya: The Hawaii Stinging Seaweed

Venturing into Hawaii waters soon? Hopefully you know to exercise caution in the picturesque Hawaiian shorelines. But, do you know about the dangers of Stinging Seaweed?

Lyngbya, a toxin-producing seaweed, causes Stinging Seaweed disease. This peculiar occurrence can leave beach enthusiasts grappling with an uncomfortable and persistent itch that ensues upon their exit from the ocean’s embrace.

Kailua Beach, in particular, has borne the brunt of this enigmatic affliction, as reported in the past. A seasoned doctor, who lent his expertise on the subject shared a startling revelation: Back in 2001 he said he has never witnessed such a widespread outbreak of the “stinging limu,” the Hawaiian term for this perplexing seaweed.

Signs & Symptoms

The onset of Stinging Seaweed manifests anywhere from mere minutes to a few hours after leaving the water’s enchanting depths. But the symptoms remain remarkably consistent. An agonizing, burning sensation sets in, leaving beach-goers vexed and tantalizingly tempted to relieve their itching through incessant scratching and rubbing. 

Experts posit that this ordeal is a consequence of a potent toxin infiltrating the skin, leading to a persistent discomfort that takes an agonizing five days to fully subside.

If you’ve been in waters plagued by Stinging Seaweed, you may find a rash underneath your swimsuit line. People also report getting the rash on their face and skin after walking by the water on a windy day. 

A Peculiar Occurrence

Reports of this unsettling phenomenon back in the day surfaced from as far as Kaneohe to Waimanalo, and even in the ritzy areas of Kahala and Ko Olina. 

An informant with insider knowledge, my boyfriend, who once served as a vigilant lifeguard at Bellows Beach for several years, attests to the seasonal nature of this occurrence. He suggests that this elusive “limu” typically makes its unwelcome appearance during the summertime, when the ocean’s temperatures soar to more inviting levels.

The most sure-fire way to avoid Stinging Seaweed is to stay away from the water. But this isn’t something that keeps most vacationers out of the ocean. Just be sure to avoid places where Stinging Seaweed has been reported. Thoroughly rinsing off may also help prevent a rash. 

Staying away from the ocean is the only way to fully protect yourself from Stinging Seaweed disease, but the more realistic precaution is to rinse off well after exiting the water

What To Do When You Experience Stinging Seaweed Disease

In the face of this perplexing predicament, it is essential to equip oneself with the knowledge to counter it. The wise counsel is to promptly cleanse the afflicted areas with warm water and soap, providing some relief from the incessant itch. Additionally, resorting to the soothing powers of an antihistamine, such as Benadryl, is known to alleviate the discomfort. 

However, should these measures fall short in assuaging the ailment, seeking professional medical assistance is imperative to ensure a swift and full recovery.

Interested in learning about more dangers of the islands? Here’s what you need to know about flesh-eating bacteria in Hawaii.