Marshall County Health Officer, Dr. Byron Holm is warning those who swim in open water that the department is seeing Swimmer’s Itch. 

As we enter the summer swimming season, a reminder about Swimmer’s Itch. It is already affecting several area lakes. Swimmer’s itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, appears as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain microscopic parasites that infect some birds and mammals. These parasites are released from infected snails into fresh and saltwater such as lakes, ponds, and oceans. While the parasite’s preferred host is the specific bird or mammal, if the parasite meets a swimmer, it burrows into the skin causing an allergic reaction and rash.

Symptoms can include:

• tingling, burning, or itching of the skin

• small reddish pimples

• small blisters

Within minutes to days after swimming in contaminated water, you may experience tingling, burning, or itching of the skin. Small reddish pimples appear within twelve hours. Pimples may develop into small blisters. Scratching the areas may result in secondary bacterial infections. The itching may last up to a week or more but will gradually go away. Because swimmer’s itch is caused by an allergic reaction to infection, the more often you swim or wade in contaminated water, the more likely you are to develop more serious symptoms. The greater the number of exposures to contaminated water, the more intense and immediate symptoms of swimmer’s itch will be.