Swimmer’s itch

Swimmer’s itch is nothing but a skin rash which is caused by a parasite named shistosomes. This parasite normally infects birds, semi-aquatic mammals and snails. Other birds which are known to carry the parasite include common grackles, red-winged blackbirds, geese, swans, ducks, muskrats and moles. These parasites are released from infected snails. They migrate through water and can penetrate the skin of man. After penetration, these parasites continue to remain in the skin. They die but they can also cause an allergic reaction in some people. This kind of parasite which enters the human body does not mature, reproduce or cause any permanent infection.

Approximately one third of the people who get in contact with this parasite develop swimmer’s itch. Individuals who swim or wade in infested water may experience itchy rash. People of all age groups and even children get infected due to swimming or wading in shallow water. Playing in the beach could also cause this as water evaporates from the skin. Swimmer’s itch is more prevalent among bathers in lakes.

An individual can get swimmer’s itch by swimming or wading in infested water and then allowing water to evaporate off the skin. The spread of this does not occur across people.

Whenever infested water is allowed to evaporate off the skin, there is an initial tingling sensation which is felt. This sensation is due to the penetration of the parasite into the skin. The irritated spot where the penetration occurs reaches its maximum size after about 24 hours. The itching may continue for various days. The symptoms should usually disappear within a week.

When the individual is first exposed to infested water, it may initially not result in the itchy rash. However, continuous exposure to such kind of water increases a person’s allergic sensitivity to the parasite. This also increases the likelihood of rash development. The symptoms of swimmer’s itches may appear within 1 to 2 hours of exposure.

No treatment is necessary for swimmer’s itch. Some individuals may get relief from itching by applying skin lotions or creams on the infected place

The first outbreaks of swimmer’s itch usually occur during late May or early June. There are some tips which you can follow to take precautions and take care of swimmer’s itch. You can towel off after swimming or wading in infested water. This can be very helpful in preventing rash. You should swim in water which is away from the shore. You must also avoid swimming in areas where there is lot of snails. You should also not encourage birds to stay near swimming areas by feeding birds. By following these simple steps, you can prevent getting swimmer’s itch.