Swimmer’s itch reports start in Flathead County

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The Flathead City-County Health Department warned recently of reports of people contracting swimmer’s itch (cercarial dermatitis) from local shallow waters.

The condition results from contact with parasite larvae in the water.

Symptoms include skin tingling, burning or itching and small reddish pimple or blisters. The rash is an allergic reaction that is not contagious.

Some water fowl and mammals carry the parasite that allows the larvae to infest shallow, warm water. If contaminated water is not removed from the skin, the larvae burrow under the skin, causing the allergic reaction.

Most often, children contract swimmer’s itch since they swim and wade in  shallow areas, then may not towel off immediately after leaving the water.

To lower the risk of contracting swimmer’s itch, a person should avoid swimming or wading in marshy areas; towel dry or shower immediately after swimming or wading and avoid feeding birds to help keep them out of swimming areas.

Health officials provided the following tips for people who develop symptoms:

n Apply corticosteroid cream.

n Apply cool compresses.

n Bathe in Epsom salts or baking soda.

n Bathe in colloidal oatmeal baths.

n Use lotions or Aveeno.

n Apply a paste of baking soda and water to the rash area.

n Apply an anti-itch lotion such as Calamine.

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