Water

Swimmer’s Itch – An Overview

The scientific name for this waterborne condition is

cercarial dermatitis

. In the developing nations, this term translates into “sawah”, “clam diggers itch” and “rice paddy itch” to Malaysian rice farmers, “kobanyo” or “kubure” to the rice farmers in Japan and “hoi con” to rice farmers in Thailand. In these regions, many swimmers are susceptible to

swimmer’s itch

as well. This skin rash is known as “Duckworms” in the costal New Jersey. Read on to know more about swimmer’s itch.

Swimmer’s Itch – An Overview

On warm days, the parasites which cause cercarial dermatitis are released into the water, especially in freshwater ponds or lakes. As you swim in these waters, the parasites may penetrate into your skin and cause skin rash. Although, humans are not the vectors for the parasites, these worms accidentally enter and die soon. Although this condition is uncomfortable, cercarial dermatitis is short-lived. The skin rash usually gets healed on its own within a few days. One can control and prevent this itching by using prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications.

This condition is a red, patchy skin rash which causes itching on those body parts that have come in contact with the water. Cercarial dermatitis is generally not severe. This skin rash disappears on its own without any treatment after the initial itching. This itching in the skin manifests within 48 hours of exposure and usually lasts for a week. This condition turns severe in a very few rare cases, where many regions in the body are affected. The main cause of this itching is trematode parasite of migrating/aquatic birds.

The parasite’s life cycle includes snails as the primary host and birds as the secondary host. The parasite in its larval form is known as a “cercaria”. This larval form is released by snails in the water. Also, this causes dermatitis in humans when it accidentally burrow’s into the human skin instead of penetrating into the skin of an actual host, such as a duck. In both the marine coastal and freshwater environments, swimmer’s itch can occur.

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