Swimmer's itch

Riding Mountain National Park

What is Swimmer's Itch? "Swimmers Itch" or "water rash" is the name given to a temporary skin irritation acquired by swimmers.

Swimmer's Itch Symptoms

Tingling Sensations: Shortly after emerging from the water, swimmers will notice a tingling sensation on exposed parts of the body.

Red Spots:

Swimmers will next notice small red spots where the organism has penetrated the skin.


Hours later, the tingling sensation will disappear, and the red spots will enlarge and become itchy. The degree of discomfort varies with the sensitivity of the individual, the severity of the infestation and prior exposure.

Preventative Measures:

Waterproof sunscreen or baby oil provides a greasy barrier over the skin that prevents the Itch parasite from entering the pores. Showering and toweling off immediately after swimming also reduce the chances of the Itch.

  • Avoid Swimmer's Itch beaches
  • Toweling down
  • Showering
  • Avoid areas with aquatic plants
  • Use of a fragrant suntan oil
  • Chemical control

What can you do if a rash appears:

There are two main ways of treating The Itch, either through a topical medicine or taking antihistamines. Topical cures include: a baking soda paste, Aveeno Anti-Itch cream, calamine lotion, After Bite, Solarcaine and Stop Itch. (Note: to make a baking soda paste, mix a small amount of baking soda and water to form a light paste and then apply to afflicted areas. If the Itch is really bad, recommend a warm bath in baking soda.) Anti-histamines are usually found in allergy medications and the most common medications for treating the itch are Chlor-Tripolon (turquoise box) and Benadryl (brown and white box).

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