By KELLIANNE GAMMILL
Southeastern Idaho Public Health announced that cases of swimmer’s itch have been reported recently at beaches in southeastern Idaho this summer.
“Swimmer’s itch is a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites carried by waterfowl and snails,” said Tracy McCulloch, community health director with Southeastern Idaho Public Health, in a press release.
“The parasite burrows into the skin where it causes the reaction.”
The parasite does not cause any other symptoms besides the rash and does not require medical attention. The parasite is generally found in fresh water, but avoid using a pool if snails are present.
The organism is found in shallow water, so avoid wading. Since waterfowl carries the parasite, avoid feeding birds found where people swim.
Swimmer’s itch will cause chickenpox-like red bumps within 12 hours of swimming and will itch for a day or two.
The red bumps will disappear in about a week. Swimmer’s itch is not contagious, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To reduce the likelihood of swimmer’s itch, shower immediately after coming out of the water and dry off with a towel as soon as possible, especially where the bathing suit touches the skin.
Baby oil can also help create a barrier between your skin and the parasite. Some sunblock contains a repellent to help with the parasite.
Over the counter anti-itch lotions are recommended by Southeastern Idaho Public Health to help with discomfort. If discomfort continues, antihistamines can be taken orally.
Avoid scratching swimmer’s itch to prevent further infection.
For more information on swimmer’s itch and other public health issues, please visit the SIPH website at http://www.siphidaho.org
This story is sponsored by Willow Valley: Dr. Morrison.
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