Swimmer's Itch

Swimmer's Itch

PUBLIC HEALTH FACT SHEET

What is Swimmer’s Itch?
Swimmer’s itch is itching and a rash caused by the larvae of a schistosome worm if they penetrate the skin.

How is Swimmer’s Itch spread?
Swimmer’s itch is spread by direct contact with water that is contaminated.  The primary carriers and transmitters of this schistosome worm are ducks and geese.  Humans can be exposed to the larvae when wading or swimming in contaminated lakes and streams.

How is it treated?
  • Treatment is supportive only, with over the counter anti-itching ointments or creams.
  • In cases of severe or persistent itching, see your doctor for additional treatment.
How can we prevent Swimmer’s Itch?
  • Shower as soon as possible after a swim.
  • Toweling off briskly helps to remove the larvae which causes the itch.
SYMPTOMS OF SWIMMER'S ITCH
  • A dull prickly sensation as the larvae burrow into the skin
  • Small red spots on the skin which begin to itch and cause a rash
  • Severity of the rash can vary from person to person