Water

Swimmer’s Itch – Signs and Symptoms

Swimmer’s itch

is also known as cercarial dermatitis, which is a form of skin rash. This skin rash occurs due to an allergic reaction caused by parasites of mammals and birds. The primary host of these parasitic flatworms called

schistosomes

is snails. The infected snails release the immature larvae called cercariae into marine as well as fresh water like lagoons, ponds and lakes. Swimmer’s itch occurs in the exposed skin regions when these larval forms accidentally enters the individual’s skin. Although, the usual host for these parasites are not humans. Read on to know more about the signs and symptoms of swimmer’s itch.

Signs and Symptoms of Swimmer’s Itch

The symptoms of cercarial dermatitis may include:

  • Small blisters
  • Small red pimples
  • Itching, burning or tingling of the skin

After swimming in the contaminated water, one may feel itching, burning or tingling sensation in the affected skin. Within 12 hours of the infection, small red pimple appear on the skin. These may lead to development of small blisters. If one scratches the infected area, secondary bacterial infections may occur. The itching may last for at least 7 days, although it clears away on its own.

Because the condition occurs due to an allergic reaction, the more frequently one swims in dirty water, the more probability of one developing more severe symptoms. The symptoms of cercarial dermatitis are more immediate and intense, when the number of exposures to dirty water increases. You should be aware of the fact that apart from swimmer’s itch, you may develop some other form of skin rash that may happen after you swim in marine or fresh water.

Risks of Swimmer’s Itch

The risk of developing this skin infection depends on various environmental factors which include:

  • Water bodies contaminated with these parasites, especially in shallow areas and along the shorelines
  • Migrating birds acting as a host to these parasites
  • The warm temperatures of air and water that helps in the growth and reproduction of snails, which are the primary hosts of these parasites

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