Cercarial dermatitis or swimmer’s itch is brought about by a miniature parasitic worm. It can be acquired by wading or swimming in infested fresh ponds or lakes.
The usual hosts of the parasite are rodents and waterfowls. Once the parasite is eliminated by the rodent or waterfowl, it enters a snail. It later leaves the snail and directly exposed to the human skin. It could not enter the deeper tissues or bloodstream but can trigger an uncomfortable, itchy rash once it burrows into the skin.
The rash starts to become itchy and manifests while still in the water. After a few hours, the itchiness and subsides. Nevertheless, after 10-15 hours after the initial rash, the papules and itchiness will recur. The rash forms as miniature, itchy, reddened bumps that might turn into blisters. In most cases, the rash settles within a week.
What are the signs?
If wading or swimming in infested waters, the following might arise:
- Burning, tingling or itchiness of the exposed skin
- Miniature, reddened pimples
- Blisters in rare instances
The itchiness can last for several days. The rash only forms on skin that was exposed to water. Scratching must be avoided to lower the risk for skin infection.
Management of cercarial dermatitis
In most cases, home remedies can help calm the itchiness from cercarial dermatitis. Some of the remedies to lessen the itchiness include:
- Application of cold compress
- Anti-itch lotion
- Baths with colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salt or baking soda
- Corticosteroid cream
- Baking soda paste
What is the outlook?
Cercarial dermatitis is a common condition during the summer season. Generally, the rash subsides on its own without causing any complications. Once the rash has settled, it leaves behind a pigmented spot where the pimple was for a few weeks.