Department of Health & Human Services

Posted on: September 11, 2015

Caution: Minimize your exposure to swimmer’s itch

Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) is reminding people that swimmer’s itch is a common hazard during warmer months in some of the lakes and slow-moving rivers and streams in Humboldt County.

Swimmer’s itch occurs when a small parasite, released from an infected snail, burrows under the skin of bathers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person may experience symptoms within minutes to days after swimming in affected water. Symptoms, which include tingling skin, moderate to severe itching and small bumps or blisters, usually subside on their own after a week or more.

To reduce the likelihood of developing swimmer’s itch, the CDC urges people not to swim in areas where swimmer’s itch is a known problem, in marshy areas where the snails are known to be found, or where signs have been posted warning of unsafe water. Swimmers should also towel dry or shower immediately after leaving the water as this will help remove the parasites before they burrow into the skin.

For more information, call DHHS’s Division of Environmental Health at 707-445-6215 or 1-800-963-9241 or visit www.cdc.gov/parasites/swimmersitch. If you have questions about treatment, call your doctor.

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