What is Swimmer’s Itch?
Swimmer’s Itch is an irritating, yet harmless rash caused by the human body’s allergic reaction to a free-swimming microscopic parasite (cercarial) found in shallow water. It is found throughout the world and is more common during the summer months.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who swims or wades in infested water. However, the larvae are more likely to be in shallow water by the shoreline. Children are most often infected because they tend to play in shallow water more than adults. Less than 7% of the population is affected by Swimmer’s Itch, and of those that are, most build an antibody after one reaction and do not experience symptoms again.
What are the symptoms?
• Tingling, burning, or itching of the skin
• Small reddish pimples
• Small blisters
Do you need to seek medical attention?
Swimmer’s Itch is not tracked by the Health Department. It is not life-threatening. Most cases of Swimmer’s Itch do not require medical attention. If you have a rash you can try the following for relief:
• Corticosteroid cream
• Cool compress to the affected area
• Bathe in Epson salts or baking soda
• Soak in colloidal oatmeal baths
• Apply baking soda paste to the rash
• Use an anti-itch lotion
Can it be spread from person to person?
What can be done to reduce the risk of Swimmer’s Itch?
To reduce the likelihood of developing Swimmer’s Itch:
• Don’t swim in areas where Swimmer’s Itch is a known problem.
• Don’t swim in marshy areas where snails are commonly found.
• Towel dry or shower immediately after leaving the water. (Any of the microscopic parasites in the droplets of water on your skin will look for somewhere to go when that water starts to evaporate. The only place to go is in your skin.)
• Swim in deeper water, away from the shore