Swimmer’s Itch Reported in Area Lake

Amanda Rink, Editor

Clarion, IA - The Lake Cornelia Improvement Association announced on Monday, June 3, that there were reported cases of Swimmer Itch from Lake Cornelia. 


Swimmer’s Itch or cercarial dermatitis is a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites that infect birds and mammals.

According to the CDC:

“These parasites are released from infected snails into fresh and saltwater (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans). While the parasite’s preferred host is the specific bird or mammal, if the parasite comes into contact with a swimmer, it burrows into the skin causing an allergic reaction and rash. Swimmer’s itch is found throughout the world and is more frequent during summer months.”


Within minutes to days after swimming in infected water, someone can experience a tingling, itching, or burning feeling on the skin. Small reddish bumps appear within twelve hours. Small blisters may appear and a secondary bacterial infection can occur. Itching can last up to a week. 


According to the CDC, there is no way to know how long water infected with the parasites will be a problem. Larvae, once released from the host snail, can survive for 24 hours. An infected snail will continue to produce cercariae throughout its life. Migratory birds or mammals in the area must also be infected so the lifecycle can continue.


Most cases of swimmer’s itch do not require medical attention. If you have a rash, the CDC suggests trying:


  • Applying corticosteroid cream or an anti-itch lotion

  • Using cool compresses on the affected areas

  • Bathe in Epsom salts, baking soda, or colloidal oatmeal baths


Avoid scratching the area. Scratching can cause the rash to become infected. If itching is severe, contact your healthcare provider. The Lake Cornelia Improvement Association further shared, “Maintaining good swimming hygiene and taking preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of contracting swimmer's itch. Please direct questions to the DNR or your medical provider.” 



Wright County Monitor

P.O. Box 153
Clarion, IA 50525
Phone: 515-532-2871
Email: news@wrightcountymonitor.com

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