What is Swimmer’s Itch?
Cercarial Dermatitis, also known as Swimmer’s Itch, is a rash that spreads to the entire body after swimming or wading in a lake, pond, or an ocean during the summer months.
It’s an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites called schistosomes (worm-like larvae) that burrow into your skin. That sounds absolutely terrifying.
How can you get Swimmer’s Itch?
You can get Swimmer’s Itch by being in a body of water that has schistosomes in it. The schistosomes mistake humans for waterfowl and burrow in your skin.
The good news (if there is any) is that only waterfowl can carry the parasite; so they will quickly die when burrowed into humans.
Where can I get Swimmer’s Itch?
You can get it when you swim in a body of water that has waterfowl. The parasite can be found anywhere in the water, but a lot of times the wind near the shore will blow the larvae to the edges of the water where they can float to the surface.
Smaller children seem to be more at risk because they typically play in the shallower parts of the water.
What are the symptoms and how long does Swimmer’s Itch last?
Symptoms range from mild irritation to a severe, itchy red rash. It will start with tingling and tiny red dots. As more time passes, the tingling will turn into itching, and the red dots will grow bigger.
Because the rash is so itchy, you will be tempted to scratch it; however, when you scratch it, it can cause pain and swelling and can even cause it to become infected.
It’s not serious, but you should seek professional help if you get an infection from scratching. Usually, within about 12 hours the rash will start to appear. It can last anywhere from 2 to 5 days, but symptoms can last as long as two weeks.
How can I avoid Swimmer’s Itch?
You really can’t unless you avoid known affected areas. If your pond or lake is infected, you will need to contact your local pond management professional for tips on how to treat your shoreline.
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