Respiratory and Skin Irritation
One of the most frequent symptoms people experience during a Florida red tide is respiratory irritation. If you have ever visited a beach during a red tide, you may have experienced the "red tide tickle" which can include itchy throat and coughing. Brevetoxins, chemicals produced by Florida red tide, may also irritate pre-existing respiratory conditions including asthma. Persons with asthma are advised to bring their inhaler to the beach during a red tide or avoid the area until conditions improve. Some swimmers experience skin irritation and rashes after swimming in waters with a severe red tide. They have also reported eye irritation from the sea foam. In some red tides, dead fish wash ashore; during these conditions it is advised that beachgoers avoid swimming in water where dead fish are present.
In most cases, the quickest way to relieve symptoms during a red tide is to leave the affected area, going into an air-conditioned environment. Particle filter masks may help reduce breathing the affected sea aerosol. Checking the conditions before going to the beach can help you choose a good time to visit. Sometimes traveling to another beach just a few miles away can make all the difference.