What to know about swimmer’s itch, a rash caused by a tiny parasite found in water contaminated by animal poop

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  • Swimmer’s itch is a rash attributable to a standard parasite present in lakes and oceans.
  • The parasite thrives in water-dwelling birds, mammals, and snails, however it generally infects people by mistake.

Instances of swimmer’s itch happen every year, normally in early summer season when the water is warmest. The rash, which may seem as small purple bumps on the pores and skin, is attributable to microscopic parasites that reproduce in lakes, ponds, and oceans. If the parasite larvae will get underneath your pores and skin, it may trigger an itchy however in any other case benign rash.

The parasite does not have an effect on people in the long run, because the larvae die shortly after coming into the physique. However with repeated exposures, the immune system learns to acknowledge and reply to the menace, in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The extra you swim in contaminated waters, the extra intense and speedy the rash shall be.

To stop swimmer’s itch, keep away from swimming in heat, marshy waters the place geese and different waterfowl could possibly be contaminated with the parasite. Many native well being departments handle reports of swimmer’s itch by posting indicators round our bodies of water the place folks have contracted it.

Should you do contract swimmer’s itch, most circumstances will be resolved with house treatments, like over-the-counter corticosteroid cream or Epsom salt baths.

Swimmer’s itch is uncomfortable however largely innocent

Signs of swimmer’s itch could embrace tingling, burning, or itchy pores and skin with small purple bumps or blisters, in response to the CDC.

The welts may seem like bug bites, besides they present up en masse minutes or days after a swim in untreated water. Uncovered pores and skin not coated by a swimsuit (ie. legs and arms) is mostly affected.

If left alone to heal, the rash will clear up inside per week, in response to Mayo Clinic. The clinic recommends in search of medical care if the bumps linger for various days or develop pus.

Scratching on the rash, nevertheless itchy it could be, will increase the danger that the realm will change into contaminated with a extra harmful micro organism.

The CDC recommends utilizing anti-itch lotions or house treatments to alleviate the itch, together with the next ideas:

  • Use corticosteroid cream (accessible over-the-counter).
  • Apply cool compresses to the affected areas.
  • Bathe in Epsom salts or baking soda.
  • Soak in colloidal oatmeal baths.
  • Apply baking soda paste to the rash.

Stopping swimmer’s itch

Whereas the potential of swimmer’s itch should not hold you from exploring pure our bodies of water this summer season, there are just a few steps you possibly can take to scale back your danger.

Keep away from swimming spots which are identified to be contaminated with any sort of parasite, as some water-dwelling organisms can cause infections way more harmful than swimmer’s itch.

The parasite that causes swimmer’s itch is extra prone to be current in heat, shallow water, so youngsters usually tend to be contaminated in contrast with adults.

People will not be meant to come back into contact with the parasite, which infects birds and mammals that reside close to the water. The parasite thrives of their bloodstreams and releases its eggs of their feces. The eggs then hatch tiny larvae that instantly search a brand new host: a selected sort of aquatic snail.

Wading in marshy areas alongside the shoreline might additional enhance your danger as you creep into snail breeding grounds. The snails host the parasites as they multiply and develop, however finally they excrete one other type of larvae that may trigger an allergic response in people.

Different methods to scale back your danger when swimming in probably infested waters embrace applying waterproof sunscreen earlier than swimming and rinsing off and toweling dry afterwards, in response to the CDC.



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