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Swimmer’s Itch: What to look for…

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So we have talked about swimmer’s ear and what you can do to avoid it but have you ever heard of swimmer’s itch?

 

Swimmer’s itch is an itchy rash caused by parasites, which infect birds, mammals, and snails.  As part of their developmental life-cycle, these parasites can be released from the infected snails, migrate through the waters, and can infect the skin of a human (DHS, 2011).

 

Once the parasite penetrates the human skin, they usually die quite quickly but they can remain under the skin causing allergic reaction to some people.  According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the parasite in a human does not mature, reproduce, or cause any permanent infection.

 

Is Swimmer’s Itch Common?

 

Only about one-third of those who come in to contact with parasites will develop swimmer’s itch.

 

Can Anyone Get Swimmer’s Itch?

 

All ages and both sexes are at risk for getting swimmer’s itch.  Although, children are most often the one’s infected due to wading in the lake or ocean.

 

Can Swimmer’s Itch Be Spread?

 

Swimmer’s itch cannot be spread by person to person.  You can only develop swimmer’s itch by allowing infested water to evaporate into your skin.

 

Note: Make sure you dry yourself off with a towel immediately after swimming.

 

What are the symptoms?

 

According to MayoClinic.com, symptoms include;

  • Itching that may begin an hour or two, or as long as 2-4 days after swimming.
  • A red, raised rash.
  • Symptoms should disperse within 7 days, if you continue to experience any of these symptoms, please consult a doctor.

 

Treatments

 

There are no particular recommended treatments but to control the itching, you can purchase over the counter antihistamines or anti-itch creams, such as those that contain calamine lotion.

 

Home Remedies:

 

  • DON’T SCRATCH!
  • Cover the infected area, with a clean wet wash cloth.
  • Soak in a bath with Epsom salts, oatmeal or baking soda.

 

Prevention

  • Choose your destinated swimming area wisely.
  • Towel off immediately after swimming or wading in infested water.
  • Swim in water that is away from the shoreline.
  • Avoid swimming in areas where snails have accumulated.
  • Don’t swim by birds or feed birds while in the water.

 

Now that you are aware of what swimmer’s itch is, just remember to pay attention to where you are swimming and go out and enjoy the rest of your summer!

 

Sources:

 

http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/factsheets/SwimmersItch.htm

 

http://www.bing.com/health/article/mayo-126576/Swimmers-itch?q=swimmer%27s+itch

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