Lice. It's a frightening word that can make you feel itchy in an instant and conjure memories of the nasty little larvae that often plague elementary school classrooms.
So, understandably, the Ocean City Beach Patrol says it has received a lot of calls in recent days after posting about an uptick in sea lice on Facebook.
But officials say sea lice, which are tiny jellyfish larvae or crab larvae, are normal and they come and go depending on the ocean's currents.
"Just like jellyfish, they just kind of go where ever they're going to go," Sgt. Brent Weingard with the Ocean City Beach Patrol told News4.
Weingard said the sea lice are attracted to areas of the body with more hair and often cling onto bathing suits or underneath rash guards. Swimmers who encounter sea lice often feel stinging or an itchy sensation.
Weingard added that the exact amount of pain someone feels may depend on their individual sensitivity.
But sea lice are not nearly as painful as a jellyfish sting and the solution to the discomfort is much easier to fix, according to Weingard.
Washing or showering in fresh water gets rid of the lice and typically ends any pain immediately. He said washing off as soon as possible also usually prevents any rashes or marks from the lice.
Weingard said he has received calls from people who are worried about their children swimming in the ocean and getting sea lice.
"It's not anything to be worried about. You know, I have three kids I would absolutely let them go swimming," he said.
The best precaution for beach-goers is to always swim near a lifeguard, Weingard said.