Cercarial dermatitis is another name for swimmer’s itch which is an allergic reaction that can happen on the surface of the skin. A parasite that thrives in ponds and lakes causes this kind of allergy. The snails that lives in the ponds and lakes ingests the parasite cercaria and releases it into the water and digs into the human skin and make it their next host, also birds can become host of this parasite. The human skin is not a suitable environment thus they quickly die and leave behind an irritating rash known as the swimmer’s itch.
Some irritation from the parasites starts to develop anytime within 12 hours after swimming. The skin will experience some tingle and itchiness and small-sized bumps starts to manifest in the affected areas. If the bumps occurred in the legs and arms, they will become swollen.
Shallow lake or ponds are the most common places where an individual can be infected by a parasite known as cercaria that causes a swimmer’s itch since it is where the infected snails live but any open body of water can still harbor these parasites. Swimmer’s itch is common during summer where some people love to swim in rivers or lakes. Clean and well-maintained swimming pools are the best and safe places to swim during summer. Water in the ponds and rivers can still stay infected until the parasites cannot anymore continue their life cycle and just dies out. Swimmer’s ear can heal on its own in a couple of days. If you want to learn more about the condition, read here.
Treatment and home remedies
- Apply calamine lotion over the affected areas
- Take over-the-counter antihistamines in order to minimize swelling and itchiness.
- Wet or dampen a clean washcloth with cool water and spread the damp cloth over the itchy areas.
- Mix water and baking soda to make a paste then spread it over the affected areas using a tongue depressor in order to minimize the itchiness.
- Soak in a lukewarm bath with a mixture of 1 to 2 cups of oatmeal or dissolve an Epsom salts in the bath to relax the body caused by the itchiness.
Prevention of swimmer’s itch
Avoid swimming in areas where it is infested by cercaria parasites usually in shallow lakes and ponds and the water is warm usually during the summer season. The most common host of the parasites includes birds such as ducks or geese thus avoid swimming in areas where these birds are present.
One option is killing the parasites found in small ponds and river by using chemicals such as copper sulphate or copper carbonate. Another way is placing a drug for the treatment of parasites into the food of birds. When the birds eat the food, the chemicals will kill the parasites inside their bodies.
Remove all vegetation around ponds and lakes since it is the ideal place for the parasites to grow and avoid attracting birds to areas where people usually go swimming.