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Swimmers Itch Popping Up Around Northern Michigan

There is nothing better than jumping into a lake on a hot summer day, but coming out of the water with an itchy rash can put a damper on the fun.

Cases of swimmers itch have been popping up around Northern Michigan. It’s common this time of year, but the health department wants you to be aware before you jump in the water.

Villakye Taitano, 11, just wanted to enjoy the water with his friends on a hot day. But it ended with all them getting a terrible case of swimmers itch.

The rash is caused by a parasite that burrows into the skin. Humans are just an accidental host.

Tom Reichard from District Heath Department #10 said once the larvae enter the skin they die. And then what happens is some people as a result of this activity have an allergic reaction to it and they will get intense itching, and that’s where the term swimmers itch comes in.”

Unfortunately, Reichard says there’s little the Health Department can do.

“We don’t have any lab resources to be testing for larvae, there are very few places in Michigan that do,” said Reichard. “What we do unfortunately, we rely on people making complaints to us. We really rely on the public telling us.”

To help prevent the rash, doctors say to towel dry immediately after you get out of the water.

Reichard said, “Some people have mentioned that they have good luck with using a waterproof sunscreen because that acts somewhat as a barrier for the larvae.”

If you do get swimmers itch, report it to your local Health Department so that they can post it on their social media pages to prevent future outbreaks.