Been swimming in a lake recently? Noticed a scratchy red rash appearing on your body? You may have Swimmer’s Itch
Swimmer’s itch or duck itch as it is sometimes known, is an allergic reaction to a microscopic waterborne parasite resulting in a temporary rash composed of red, itchy bumps that develop after swimming in lakes and ponds. The rash and itching usually starts within minutes to hours after contact with lake water. The rash develops when parasites from infected snails are released and find their way to anyone in the water. The parasite’s preferred hosts are primarily waterfowl but if the parasite meets a swimmer before finding a duck, it mistakenly burrows into the swimmer’s skin where it quickly dies but causes an allergic reaction and a rash. Swimmer’s itch is found throughout the world, and is more prevalent in warmer months.
Natural lake conditions bring the birds and snails, the primary hosts for swimmer’s itch required by the parasite to complete its life cycle. Additionally, two factors that favor swimmer’s itch are:
The itching sensation usually develops within a few minutes to a few hours and can last from several days to a week. Unfortunately, people do not develop an immunity to the parasite but rather they become more sensitive with each outbreak. Over-the-counter anti-itch creams provide temporary relief for the itch. Check with your local pharmacist or doctor for additional information and help.
If you have any health concerns regarding swimmer’s itch consult with your doctor or other health care provider. This information is not medical advice or diagnosis of any disease or health condition.