Swimmer’s Itch is Back at the Lakes: Watch Out!

Crisp, cool water may sound inviting, but it also may contain swimmer's itch

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — School is out for the summer and people are headed down to the lakes.

Crisp, cool water may sound inviting, but it also may contain swimmer’s itch.

“Well with lake itch not so much myself but I worry about it with them,” said Emily Tomalla, who is visiting the beach with her children. “I guess we got to wash her off pretty quick. I don’t want to get it.”

Swimmer’s itch is an allergic reaction to a microscopic parasite.

The big question is: why does it come to lakes country?

“It’s in the normal life cycle of birds and snails and it’s common around this area,” explained Dr. Nicole Kox, an Intensive Care Physician at Sanford Medical Center.

Swimmer’s itch creates a rash on the exposed part of the body, but the biggest confusion is what the red bumps really are.

“It’s generally a misconception that it’s the actual parasite that’s causing the red bumps, but it’s not,” said Dr. Kox. “The parasite dies and it’s the parasite as a foreign object that causes the bumpy rash.”

A lot of people come out to the lakes this summer but swimmer’s itch hasn’t stopped people from diving right in.

“It’s really not a big deal,” said Tomalla. “When I got it, it went away.”

And it certainly doesn’t scare the kids.

“Can you tell me your favorite part about coming to the lakes?” I asked.

“Yeah! That I get to play in the water!” said Layla, Tomalla’s¬†daughter.

“At first I was nervous, but I don’t really react to stuff so I’m fine with it,” added Lily Engen, another visitor.

If you wind up getting the rash, simple methods of cooling and over the counter creams can help.

“Anything that is really going to calm the skin,”¬†explained Dr. Kox.

Most importantly: rinse off.

But as irritating as the itch can be, Dr. Kox said it can’t do any real harm.

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