Cercarial dermatitis, which is most often called swimmers or summers itch is linked to a form of schistomsomes specie, cercariae.
When an individual has an allergic reaction to these parasites, which normally infect migratory birds, seagulls, and mammals that reside in fresh or brackish water environments, a skin eruption will occur.
The cercariae parasite appears to have a chemotropic reaction on the human skin. When cercariae tries to penetrate the skin, a rash will appear, along with intense itching, this is a immune system reaction.
Duck itch is another form of cercarial dermatitis and linked to the schistosomes species, austrobilharzi variglandis, which often infects wild ducks and geese (CDC).
In swimmers itch, the skin eruption will occur on the skin areas that are exposed to the elements.
This reaction is totally opposite in seabather’s itch, which affects the skin areas underneath the clothing, where they get trapped. Seabathers is often linked to cnidarians (larval stage), in which the jellyfish is the host.
- Burning, itchy skin
- Reddened pimples
- Tiny blisters
The symptoms may last up to 1 week or longer, but will eventually disappear over time.
Exposure of Schistosomes
The parasite will enter the host (bird) through the skin and migrate to the blood vessels. There they will evolve into an adult worm and begin to produce eggs.
These eggs will pass through the duck’s feces and when the eggs enter the water, they will begin to hatch, then develop in a intermediate host.
When humans are exposed to the parasites, they may or may not penetrate the skin, but they will not develop any further.
Cercarial Dermatitis Treatment
While most cases of swimmer’s itch does not require treatment, many victims will opt to take advantage of topical creams to soothe the itching and inflammation.
- Cold compresses
- Epsom salt, baking soda, and oatmeal baths
- Antihistamine creams
- Corticosteroid creams
- Avoid scratching
These are fairly the same medications that are utilized for contact dermatitis treatment.
Is Summer’s Itch Contagious?
No, it is not contagious, but those that swim or wade in water that is infested with these parasites are at a high risk of getting swimmers itch.
A very common swimmers itch treatment is the all-natural Wild Naturals Cream.