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Experts Warn That Sargassum In Cancun Can Cause Mild Skin Rashes For Some Tourists

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The foul smelling seaweed that washes up on Cancun beaches from time to time may not just be an eyesore that tourists have to deal with! Cancun beaches were the envy of the world because of their white coloring that contrasted perfectly with the light blue ocean. In the past few years though, large amounts of this seaweed has covered these beautiful beaches.

deposits on beach

Not a lot was known about sargassum when it first started appearing on local beaches. Since this has been a recurring issue in the region local scientists have taken it upon themselves to investigate this substance further. Their findings haven’t been all bad.

sargassum collection

The sargassum that is collected on local beaches is now being used as a building material. There’s currently a project that relies heavily on the use of sargassum blocks as building materials. To be able to create a temporary home for immigrants that arrive in the Cancun region. Although most people will not have reactions to the seaweed, some people could be affected. Prolonged exposure to this seaweed can cause skin lesions for those with sensitive skin.

collected sargassum

Who Should Be Worried About Sargassum?   

There’s a chance that you may arrive at a Cancun beach, and realize that sargassum is heavily present in the area. What should you do then? For the most part, walking past or swimming near sargassum isn’t a problem. If you have sensitive skin though, you’ll certainly want to limit your exposure to this seaweed. Researchers at the UNAM university in Mexico City conducted numerous experiments on strands of sargassum. In their findings they’ve issued a few warnings. Doctor Alejandro García Vargas of the Mexican Institute of Dermatology mentioned,    

walking on sargassum

“When (sargassum) comes into contact with people’s skin there are a couple of negative effects that could pop up. Especially if the person is allergic to some of the elements found in this organic material. Contact dermatitis can develop in people who are exposed. This is typically an inflammation of the skin caused by being in contact with a toxic substance”

Skin Lesions on Hands

The doctor mentioned that not every single person who comes touches sargassum will develop some type of skin lesion. Having sensitive skin in general, or being allergic to some of the elements found in sargassum can increase your chances of developing a skin lesion. You may want to be careful about where you set your towels when you head to the beach. 

playa del carmen

How To Treat A Skin Lesion From Sargassum 

Doctor Garcia Vargas explained that sargassum traveled throughout the ocean for miles before ultimately ending up on the beach. In that journey it is typically able to pick up different elements that are going to be part of the makeup of this organic material. He mentioned that recent research has found traces of arsenic, copper, magnesium, and molybdenum in sargassum. Each of which can be harmful to humans in high quantities. That’s why even if you’re not someone with easily irritable skin you’ll still want to keep your sargassum exposure to a minimum. The doctor also explained some of the ways to treat skin lesions. 

Walking On Sargassum Riddled Beach

If you start feeling itchy after having spent some time at the beach it’s a good idea to wash out the affected area with abundant soap and water. Any minor redness can be treated with creams that can be found over the counter at local pharmacies. There have been extreme cases where people develop a severe allergic reaction to sargassum. In those cases it’s imperative that you seek medical help right away. Thankfully these extreme cases tend to be few and far between. Most people who have minimal contact with sargassum will be just fine.

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