Ten Mile Lake Association

Swimmer's Itch Alert



Swimmer’s Itch has raised its ugly head again this year in Ten Mile Lake.  It may not be everywhere on the lake, but there have been reports from the north shore and the south shore, and now today from the east end. 

It is caused by a parasite in the water.* The parasite likes to be wet, so when you get out of the water and start to dry off, they burrow into your skin to stay damp.  (They do not bite). Your body creates an immune/allergic response which appears as VERY itchy red welts which appear within minutes or up to several  hours later. This is very difficult for young children – and they are most often affected because they spend a lot of time in the water, especially in the shallow areas where the parasites congregate.

When done swimming, dry off immediately all over with a towel, or better yet, shower with soap. Thrifty White Pharmacy sells a SWIMMER’S ITCH GUARD cream to put on before you swim – no info available about how effective it is. Rumor has it that another preventive measure is to put sunscreen all over even under your bathing suit before going in the water.  Some people take Benadryl before swimming so that the immune response is not so strong if it does happen.

Most cases of swimmer’s itch do not require medical attention. If you have a rash, you may try the following for relief:

  • Use corticosteroid cream
  • Apply cool compresses to the affected areas
  • Bathe in Epsom salts or baking soda
  • Soak in colloidal oatmeal baths, or application of red wine vinegar
  • Apply baking soda paste to the rash (made by stirring water into baking soda until it reaches a paste-like consistency)
  • Use an anti-itch lotion like calamine

Symptoms usually will resolve within 1–2 weeks.

*The life cycle of the swimmer’s itch parasite includes snails and mergansers, is naturally occurring and has nothing to do with the health of the lake. Not allowing ducks, especially mergansers, to sit on your dock and hang out on your shore might help.

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