Home remedies: how to treat and prevent swimmer's itching

outdoor swimming
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The swimmer's itch is an itchy rash that can occur after swimming or wading outdoors. Also known as cercarial dermatitis, swimmer's itching is more common in lakes and freshwater ponds, but occasionally occurs in salt water.

The rash is usually caused by an allergic reaction to parasites that are buried in your skin while swimming or wading in warm water. The parasites that cause the swimmer's itch usually live in animals such as waterfowl.

These parasites can be released in the water, but fortunately humans are not suitable hosts, so the parasites soon die while they are still on the skin.

The swimmer's itch is uncomfortable, but usually disappears on its own in a few days. Meanwhile, you can control itching with over-the-counter or prescription medications.

Lifestyle and home remedies

These tips can reduce itching:

  • Don't scratch
  • Cover the affected areas with a clean, damp cloth.
  • Immerse yourself in a bath sprinkled with Epsom salts, baking soda or oatmeal.
  • Make a paste of baking soda and water, then apply it on the affected areas.
  • Apply a medicated cream to soothe itching and inflammation.


The parasites that cause the swimmer's itch live in the blood of animals such as water birds that live near ponds and lakes. To reduce the risk of swimmer itching:

  • Choose swimming places carefully. Avoid swimming in areas where the swimmer's itch is a known problem or the signs warn of possible contamination. Also avoid swimming or wading in swampy areas where snails are commonly found.
  • Avoid the coast, if possible. If you are a good swimmer, head to deeper waters to swim. You are more likely to develop a swimmer's itch if you spend a lot of time in warmer waters near the shore.
  • Rinse after swimming. Rinse exposed skin with clean water immediately after leaving the water. Then vigorously dry your skin with a towel. Wash your swimsuits often.
  • Skip the breadcrumbs. Do not feed the birds at the docks or near the bathing areas.
  • Apply waterproof sunscreen. It has been reported that this protects the skin from the parasite that causes the swimmer's itch.

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Home remedies: do not scratch the swimmer's itch

© 2019 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
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Citation: Home remedies: How to treat and prevent swimmer's itch (2019, August 22) recovered on August 22, 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-08-home-remedies-swimmer.html

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