Who's been snorkeling? I have always heard it was such an amazing experience. So beautiful and calming. Years ago (somewhere around 2000) I went scuba diving in Cozumel and it was absolutely amazing. I had never been snorkeling and wanted to try it.
I tend to be someone who can catastrophize something pretty dang quick. In general.
On December 23, 2019, my husband and I were in St Lucia on our Honeymoon Trip and we took a snorkeling and sunset cruise. The boat didn’t give us any instructions on how to actually snorkel. We were dropped off on the beach and left with our equipment. I was having some trouble working the flippers, my life jacket started to lose air and a sort of panic feeling set in like I was going to drown (I'm not a strong swimmer and have had previous water scares).
In starting to sort of flail around in my panic, I scratched myself on a very large rock that was fully immersed underwater near shore.
Once back on the boat, I cleaned it up as best as I could then really cleaned it well upon returning to our room. Over the course of the next couple of days, with washing and essential oils, it was almost healed before we left to go home.
It was about December 31 and I noticed some red itchy bumps on my leg exactly where the rock scratch had been. I put some coconut oil and lavender essential oil on it. A couple of hours later it was still itching so I put some coconut oil, thyme essential oil, and lavender essential oil on it. The next day it was getting a little worse. By now I’m kind of getting worried. I use very high-quality essential oils and most generally the ailment is gone overnight. Over the course of the next couple of days, I used coconut oil and CBD oil as my carrier. I use single and combinations of thieves, thyme, lemon, tea tree, and lavender. It still itches unreal and it is still red and bumpy. I tried an Epsom salt bath. Nope, that gave me zero relief.
I did exactly what anyone is NOT supposed to do and I took to the internet ….
What the heck is this??
Sea lice. This came up a lot when searching for ocean rash or ocean abrasion. The pictures looked like what I had. Itchy red bumps. The articles I read said it occurred from microscopic jellyfish larvae getting in your suit. Symptoms usually show up shortly after swimming. Based on the information I thought it was similar but probably not it.
I stumbled upon something called vibrio vulnificus. This one sounds nasty, it scared me a little. Pushed me deeper into the rabbit hole. It’s a gram-negative bacteria, meaning it’s more resistant to treatment. Present in the warm marine environment (check) in coastal areas (check) mostly along the entire southeast US coast (nope) ate raw oysters (nope) injured skin (check) exposed to contaminated marine water (maybe check).
It was not a true blister, it’s not spreading, it just itches like crazy.
Swimmers Itch – may be, it’s a bumpy red rash, but it’s mostly in freshwater. So not it.
Pseudomonas – Nope, looks similar to swimmer’s itch but has a white pustule in the middle of each spot. It’s a pathogen but not found in open ocean environments.
Pemphigus – Nope. Signs would be sores in the mouth (nope), crusty sores beginning on the scalp (nope), or a complication of cancer (nope). Another one checked off.
Pemphigoid – there are different classifications. I’m not over 60 and I’m not pregnant. The pictures also did not match.
Cellulitis – the pictures of the rash did not match.
MSRS – I am not leaking pus and didn’t look like pimples.
I started to dive deep to find out the top gram-negative essential oils (bacterial resistant). Turns out I already pretty much had it down. Oregano, thyme, tea tree, clove, lemongrass.
I emailed my doctor’s office a description and pictures. They said it was not infected. For the itch use hydrocortisone cream and come in if it gets worse or infected.
Hubby could not find a store that carried colloidal silver so he ordered it but it will take a couple of days. He brought home some hydrocortisone cream and some Arnicare.
The arnica did not do anything. The hydrocortisone cream did take away the itch. The redness diminished a little. The cream wore off pretty quickly. Ice packs or coldness make it worse.
A couple of days go by ..
It’s still itching like crazy. It’s not getting better. In my online research, I stumbled upon a site that talked about international doctors. I found one in my area. I called for an appointment. She said they really only see people that are needing vaccinations for going out of the country. I should see my doctor. I told her I emailed them and they told me to come in if it wasn’t getting better. She got me an appointment with a doctor that helps out in the international clinic.
The day came. The diagnosis .. extreme climate change!!
Yep. It was not all the way healed when we left. We came back to freezing Minnesota and my skin got irritated. I freaked out thinking it was some bacterial I needed to demolish and started my usual anti-bacterial regime of high-powered essential oils. But I just made it worse and more irritated. A bacterial or parasite would not almost clear up and come back. The pattern was not bacterial. It was not the correct place for a parasite to enter. The doctor I saw had coincidentally lived in St. Lucia for a time and knew the island. I felt so much better when I left.
I have a new topical to use and pretty soon, I’ll be good as new.
The moral of the story - make sure you know how to do something before you go and don't look on Google for medical advice.
Note: Essential oils in their pure form are very concentrated and potent. Some can burn your skin if not applied with a carrier oil. Before using an essential oil, make sure it is of high quality and use just a drop or two.