It was reported this week that due to parasites from birds that can be present in lakes, there have been problems of swimmer’s itch in some Arizona lakes. The specific lake mentioned is Lake Saguaro in Phoneix, Arizona. This can manifest as small pimples or blisters on the skin. Dr. England, the director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health states that , “Not everyone who visits a lake or even wades in shallow water will be exposed to this. Maricopa County Public Health is absolutely not advising people to avoid swimming in lakes.” Recommendations are to try to avoid the areas that have vegetation as those areas can be breeding grounds.
In Hogan Reservoir in Calveras County located in California, there are also reported cases of swimmer’s itch due to a parasite. The shallow waters where kids swim can be a vulnerable area to pick up the parasite. Kids are advised to shower and towel your body after being in the water. Itching and red bumps are symptoms of this infection.
Another area with reported rashes was the splash pad in Sapula County, Okalahoma. “From the information that we’ve gathered, it seems the likely cause is chemical irritation from exposure to a chemical to the skin that can cause a rash and, kind of, either breaks to the skin or pustules that can form,” said Lawrence Burnsed with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, pointing out the difficulty in identifying exactly what that chemical might be.
One theory of the underlying chemical is that it’s chlorine, but this has not been confirmed.
It is quite tempting to scrach an itchy area and adults are as guilty of this as children. Explain to your child that scratching can lead to bacterial infections and apply ointments that help with the itching sensation. When I was a child my mom told me to light pat a mosquito rash rather than scratch it with my fingernails. This was good advice and did work to mitigate the sensations.
There is a funny scene from the show Friends where Phoebe and her boyfriend (played by Charlie Sheen) each have a terrible rash of chicken pox and wear oven gloves (that Monica tapes on them because they had no self-control) to stop their temptations to scratch themselves. At one point, they abandon the gloves and in a hysterical scene show their ecstatic relief when they are able to scratch each other. The romantic parallel made it very funny as their expressions of joy mirrored the bliss of a romantic connection.
The lake and reservoir rashes will resolve naturally, but if there is deep scratching that leads to bacterial infections this can lead to impetigo or other problems that require antibiotics. Also, if one picks up the scabies mite, a five percent permethrin treatment is used to control this. The scabies skin rashes are contagious and communicated by skin contact and sharing clothing or bedding. They can be spread at camps, schools and nursing facilities.