WARNING: Beware of the Swimmer’s Itch when swimming in lakes, beaches

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Summer camp swimming

This image released by Forest Lake Camp shows swimmers and kayakers on the lake at the camp in Warrensburg, N.Y. (Forest Lake Camp / AP)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — If you plan on taking a dip in a lake or a beach this summer, beware of the “Swimmer’s Itch.”

The parasite lives in the blood of infected animals like ducks, geese, swans and mammals like muskrats and raccoons. It produces and egg that can be passed on in the feces of those infected animals. The eggs then hatch and invade snails where they multiply into the form that can burrow into a person’s skin.

It’s important to note that humans aren’t the target — birds are — but the microscopic larvae can get into the swimmer’s skin and can cause an allergic reaction.

The swimmers itch is not contagious, and they aren’t harmful as long as the bumps don’t become infected, but the itching can be miserable for a couple of days.

Here are some symptoms of swimmers itch, according to the CDC:

  • tingling, burning, or itching of the skin
  • small reddish pimples
  • small blisters

The treatment for the itching and redness are antihistamines and corticosteroid cream. Other remedies include;

  • Applying cool compresses to the affected areas
  • Bathing in Epsom salts or baking soda
  • Soaking in colloidal oatmeal baths
  • Applying baking soda paste to the rash (made by stirring water into baking soda until it reaches a paste-like consistency)
  • Using an anti-itch lotion
  • Ask if swimmers itch has been an issue where you plan to swim


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