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Swimmer’s itch is an itchy rash after swimming or wading outdoors. Swimmer itching, also known as cercarial dermatitis, is more common in freshwater lakes and ponds, but sometimes occurs in salt water.
- Swimmer’s itch is a rash usually caused by an allergic reaction to parasites burrowing their way into your skin while swimming or wading in hot water.
- Parasites that cause swimmers to itch normally live in waterfowl and some mammals. These parasites can be released into the water. Humans are not suitable hosts, so the parasites die quickly while they are still in your skin.
The itchy rash associated with the swimmer’s itchiness looks like reddish pimples or blisters. It can appear a few minutes or a few days after swimming or wading in infested water.
- Swimmer’s itchiness usually only affects exposed skin – skin that is not covered by swimsuits, wetsuits, or over-the-knee boots. The signs and symptoms of the swimmer’s itchiness usually worsen with each exposure to the parasite.
Parasites that cause swimmers itch live in the bloodstream of waterfowl and mammals that live near ponds and lakes. Examples include:
Parasites that cause swimmers itch live in the bloodstream of waterfowl and mammals that live near ponds and lakes. The more time you spend in contaminated water, the higher the risk of itching in a swimmer. Children may be at the highest risk as they tend to play in shallow water and are less likely to towel dry themselves.
- Some people are more prone to swimmer itching than others. And your sensitivity may increase if you are exposed to the parasites that cause the swimmer to itch.
- Swimmer’s itchiness rarely causes complications, but scratching too hard can infect your skin. Avoid scratching the rash.