Scratch-Splash-Scratch … Got an Itch? It could be “Swimmer’s Itch”

As the summer temperature heats up, who doesn’t want to take a dip in the lake and cool off? Swimmer’s itch is an itchy rash caused by certain parasites that normally live in freshwater snails and sometimes can even be found on waterfowl. While you are swimming, these parasites might burrow into your skin, causing the swimmer’s itch rash. These parasites soon die as humans are not suitable hosts for them.

The cause of swimmer’s itch is your body’s allergic reaction to parasites that migrate from snails to other types of waterfowl. Swimmer’s itch isn’t contagious from person to person and not everyone is sensitive to swimmer’s itch. Some people show no symptoms even though they would be swimming in the same location as others who break out with a red rash. Children are at the highest risk, because they normally splash around in the shallow water. If swimmer’s itch is known to be present, swim off shore if possible. Also, avoid swimming when winds are carrying the organism to the beach.

If swimmer’s itch is a problem at your lake, it is important to rinse and towel off immediately after getting out of the water. This will help reduce the odds that you will get it after you get out of the water. If you did get swimmer’s itch while you were in the water, the rash typically clears up within a few days. While the itching can be unpleasant, it usually doesn’t require you to get medical attention.

We recommend using a copper sulfate to kill the snails that are in the water. The copper sulfate will only kill the snails that are present during the time of application. Keep in mind that other snails may move into the area after this time and so a second application of copper sulfate might be necessary. Copper sulfate is toxic to snails, but safe for swimmers. It is an EPA approved algaecide.

We also recommend keeping waterfowl away from your dock and swimming area. The use of our Goose D-Fence® system will help keep unwanted geese off of your property. The Goose D-Fence system is a retractable fence that has easy installation or removal. Geese require easy access to food and a drink of water every 30 minutes. Goose D-Fence® can eliminate that access and the geese will move on to other sites that better suit them.