Beach scene along the Connecticut coast
GREENWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The Greenwich Department of Health announced Monday that swimmer’s itch had been reported at several beaches in the city.
Health officials said swimmer’s itch, also known as cercarial dermatitis, looks like a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites released from snails into freshwater and saltwater, including lakes, ponds and oceans.
While humans are not the parasite’s preferred host, they can come into contact with humans and cause an allergic reaction and rash. Not all people who come into contact with the parasite will develop swimmer’s itch.
Health officials said it is not contagious and cannot be spread from one person to another.
- The tingling, burning or itching of the skin within minutes or days
- The appearance of small reddish pimples on the skin within about 12 hours
- Small blisters may appear at the site of the small pimples within a short period of time
Health officials said most cases of swimmer’s itch do not require medical attention. However, if a rash develops, the following may provide relief:
- Use of corticosteroid cream
- Applying cool compresses to the affected area
- Bath in Epsom salts or baking soda
- Soak in colloidal oatmeal baths
- Applying a baking soda paste to the rash
- Use of anti-itch lotion
If it develops an infection by scratching the rash, contact your doctor immediately.
- Dry towel and shower immediately after leaving the bath water. This includes thoroughly rinsing areas under the bathing suit.
- Decide if you want to swim in the water and note that signs that swimmer’s itch is reported from the recreational swimming area are posted at some beach locations as a safety precaution.