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Seattle Parks and Recreation

Swimmers' Itch

 

Swimmers’ Itch is caused by a tiny parasite, found in waterfowl and snails. If water is allowed to dry on the skin, the tiny parasite penetrates the skin and dies shortly thereafter. It can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Although irritating, Swimmers’ Itch is not dangerous and cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Small red spots may appear and begin to itch. The rash usually lasts about five days. Contact your physician for medications to reduce itching.

Prevent Swimmers' Itch

  • Tests have shown that liberally applied waterproof sunscreen before swimming may reduce the risk of Swimmers’ Itch.
  • Towel off or shower IMMEDIATELY after leaving the water (including the area under your swim suit)
  • Swim away from shore. Most parasites are found in shallow water. Swimming, rather than wading reduces the risk of contacting the Swimmers’ Itch.
  • Do not feed geese or ducks. Human food is not good for waterfowl. Parasites from waterfowl cause Swimmers’ Itch.
 
Updated January 23, 2007
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