Everyone loves going to the beach or to the family cottage, or just simply relaxing on the shores of your favourite lake. But do you sometimes get out of the water and feel itchy as you dry? Many people think this is the sand drying or something similar, but it is most likely swimmers itch.
What is swimmers itch?
It is when swimmers get affected by the parasites from birds and snails and it comes into contact with your skin. As horrid as this sounds, it does not grow inside you, it only causes symptoms when in contact with the skin.
Swimmers itch can cause irritation, such as itching, or a burning sensation. It tends to affect children a lot more because they will play more around the shallow waters and the shoreline. You only really notice it as the skin dries.
So, what do you do for swimmers itch?
You cannot really prevent it, but you can help get rid of it by having a good rub down with a towel when you first come out of the water, this gets rid of the bacteria before it has a chance to dry on your skin and cause irritation.
Avoid marshy areas where the snails and birds will be and these bacteria will likely be as the water does not flow much through a marsh.
Some people will not notice symptoms for up to 12 hours afterwards and may blame it on something else. Symptoms usually disappear in a few days, but if you have been affected by swimmers itch, here are a few things you can do to alleviate the annoying symptoms.
How To alleviate symptoms
1. Try and not itch the affected area, this just makes the irritation worse. Remember this is a reaction to the bacteria, and you will only make it worse by itching and you risk infection if you open the skin by intense scratching.
2. Take a bath with one cup of baking soda in the tub. This will help with the iching
3. If it is not convenient to have a bath, then make a paste out of baking soda and water and put directly on the itchy patches.
4. Calamine lotion is always a great standby for swimmers itch or any other typical summer problems for the skin such as sunburn and bug bites.
5. Cool wet cloth on the area
If you are really having trouble with the itching, and you have tried the above tips, then you can talk to a pharmacist about taking a antihistamine. These are used for allergic reactions to bites and skin problems.
Symptoms are not dangerous, but they are annoying. After a swim in any lake you should rub down with a towel rather than letting the lake water air dry on you, as this is when swimmers itch becomes a problem.
So, next time you are at the beach or cottage, have your swim, and then dry yourself off, and monitor your kids for the same. After they have had their day at the beach, give them a bath and or if the cottage has an outdoor shower use it on them, and this will keep any of the swimmers itch bacteria off of them, as well as get all that sand off before heading inside..