Top of the page
Swimmer's itch is a rash caused by an allergic reaction to the larvae of certain parasites. A parasite is an animal or plant that lives in or on another animal or plant (called the host). The rash looks like reddish bumps on the skin. It often appears outside the bathing suit. How severe the rash is may vary for people exposed to the same parasites.
The parasites can get under your skin when you swim in fresh water (such as lakes and ponds) and sometimes in salt water. This causes an allergic reaction and an itchy rash. The itching is worse in the first few days after it starts. Then it gets better after about a week. Because the parasite can't live in the human body, swimmer's itch goes away on its own.
You don't get swimmer's itch from swimming pools that are treated with chlorine. And it doesn't spread from person to person.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter S002 in the search box to learn more about "Swimmer's Itch: Care Instructions".
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
©2006-2023 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.