It’s that time of year where the weather is hot and it’s the perfect time to head to the water. Well, not all water you swim in gives you a great experience. Have you heard of the swimmers itch? It’s the worst thing possible, but I have found a way thank to this sweet pharmacist who told me what I needed to do.
Let’s start off by explaining what it is. Swimmer’s itch is a parasite (I know gross huh) that digs deep into your skin, which then you develop a skin rash or small pimple like blisters, which then becomes VERY ITCHY! These parasites come from infected snails (gross) that are released into any lakes, ponds, or ocean water. The parasite prefers a host such as a bird or mammal, but humans are their next best thing… however, the parasite is not able to survive in the human body, so it then dies.
Unfortunately, this is now the second time my kids and I have experienced swimmers itch, and i’ll be the first to tell you it’s not fun! Both experiences have been from 2 totally different places (Cottonwood in Search Light, NV and Sand Hollow in Hurricane, Utah). There is also not a way you can know if a lake has swimmers itch based on looking or observing it. My only recommendation is researching the lake/pond/ocean before going. Also, I read on many recreation sites that swimming in warm water or near any bushes or scrubs is more likely to carry these parasites. We didn’t do any research before hand and little did we know Sand Hollow in Utah (which was our most recent trip) is VERY KNOWN for swimmer’s itch. In fact all the way at the bottom of the entrance receipt says “no refunds for swimmers itch!”. Which we didn’t even pay attention to the receipt until after we came back home from Utah. So definitely DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE GOING!
So when we were at Sand Hollow, I immediately new Melia had swimmers itch because after coming out of the water and about 10 mins or so later she started itching her legs… a lot. My cousin then happened to check his FB page since he posted some pictures of all of us there and someone had commented on his picture that the lake is known for the itch and to be careful (of course after swimming right). I then researched the lake.. and little did we know.. they are! So what I did was take several drinking water bottles and washed her down immediately. I also used wipes and wiped her down just to try and remove all the lake water and parasites.
After we got back to the hotel, I immediately had the girls take a shower and I scrubbed the crap out of their body and hair, then applied lotion all over. Unfortunately, we found out that once the parasite enter the skin is burrows itself deep, so once it’s in… it’s in.
The next morning, Melia woke up and she was COVERED in small pimple/blister like dots EVERYWHERE! She was complaining so much that it was so itchy, that we needed to stop somewhere right away to get some type of itching lotion. I had research before going that calamine lotion works for itching.
We stopped at the closest Walmart in Hurricane Utah, and I decided to speak to the pharmacist. She was so kind and told me exactly what to do. She advised me to clean her body with rubbing alcohol. She said that the parasite will not die right away until rubbing alcohol is applied. The parasite will eventually die on it’s own within the next week or so if no rubbing alcohol is applied. Which makes total sense because when we first had the swimmer’s itch about 2-3 years ago it was brutal and it lasted for 2 weeks! Thats 2 weeks of itching constantly and just always being uncomfortable. It was horrible! She also recommended that anyone who went into the water, be rubbed down with alcohol because the pimple like blisters can appear from the following day of swimming in the affected area, to the next couple of days. And as of that day Melia was the only one affected by the itch so far. That changed over the course of a few days. The following day Avery started getting it and then some of my nephews.
The pharmacist lastly recommended putting calamine lotion on right after cleaning her body with rubbing alcohol.
Here was the struggle… we are in a pandemic and THERE IS NO RUBBING ALCOHOL ANYWHERE!!!! I’m sure you can see how frustrated I was at that point LOL. Luckily, the pharmacist had a few boxes of rubbing alcohol wipes and said it’ll still work; it’ll just be a pain in the ass because they were tiny little wipes. So I ended up purchasing 3 boxes just in case we weren’t able to find any rubbing alcohol back home.
Since we weren’t back home in Las Vegas yet, I immediately wiped the spots where she would complain about the most and then applied the lotion until we got back home to Vegas. When we got home I had her take yet another shower and right after I wiped her down completely with the rubbing alcohol wipes and applied the calamine lotion soon after. This part took me forever because the wipes were so small. However, I sent me husband out on a hunt for rubbing alcohol and luckily he was able to find a bottle, which was a life saver!!
So the trick is to wipe their body down TWICE A DAY. Be aware, when applying rubbing alcohol it will sting a little bit. I just told Melia this was a good thing because that’s killing the parasite. So it’s a “good sting” LOL. Right after applying the rubbing alcohol, apply the calamine lotion onto the spots. This will help tremendously with the itch… I PROMISE!
You may have to re-apply the lotion a few times, but I found it best to apply 2-3 layers of the lotion onto the spots. Because the lotion is very thin, it didn’t completely take out the itch. So do 2-3 layers just to give it an extra coating. Also, make sure they shower every night. Then repeat the process. Doing this, you will see the blisters start to get smaller and then diminish. Below you can see the days of when she first got the blisters and day 4 where they were almost all gone. Also, by day 4 she was no longer itchy. So I didn’t have to apply the calamine lotion.
Just make sure to not itch the blisters. It can cause bleeding or other bacterial infections.
I’m not going to lie, this was a process, but I promise it’s better dealing doing this process then dealing with the horrible itch for up to 2 weeks!
Day 1- Hundreds of bumps/welts were all over her body… including her face
Day 2- A lot of the welts were starting to go down. Ones that were still big I drenched it in alcohol
Day 3- Almost all of the welts were now flatten and the itchiness was a lot less
Day 4- All of the welts were completely gone and no more itchiness
STEP BY STEP TO REMOVE SWIMMERS ITCH:
STEP 1 | Wash your body really really good. If you can, try and exfoliate your skin just to completely remove all the lake/pond/ocean water off your skin. Also take a warm to hot shower to open all your pores.
STEP 2 | Apply rubbing alcohol ALL OVER YOUR BODY as soon as you get out of the shower. With taking a hot shower your pores are open, and this gives the rubbing alcohol more of an opportunity to do it’s job. The blisters can appear over the next couple of days, so it’s important to not just clean the affected areas, but all. Even all those that have swam and doesn’t appear to have the itch, should all be washed and rubbed down with rubbing alcohol per the pharmacists suggestion.
STEP 3 | Apply calamine lotion on the affected areas. 2-3 layers of the lotion will help with the itch.
STEP 4 | Repeat step 3 & 4 twice a day if not more. If you feel like you need to repeat the process more than twice a day, do so. You can also just apply rubbing alcohol to the affected areas only if you like.
* see a doctor if the rash is worsening or if infection occurs
WAYS TO AVOID SWIMMERS ITCH:
- do your research before going to the lake
- always wipe off immediately from the water with fresh/clean water
- use water-proof suntan lotion (not the spray)
- bring rubbing alcohol with you and if any type of itching occurs.. immediately rub down with rubbing alcohol
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