Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health


Date Released: 8/4/2005
Contact: Harriet Hill, Registered Environmental Health Specialist,
Phone: (707) 445-6215


Swimmer’s Itch (schistosome dermatitis) is a common hazard for bathers during the warm summer months in some of the lakes and slow moving streams in Humboldt County.

Swimmer’s Itch occurs when a small parasite burrows under the skin of bathers. The parasite cannot survive in humans and does not infect us. The symptoms, which include tingling skin, moderate to severe itching, and small bumps or eruptions, usually reach maximum intensity after 2-3 days, after which the symptoms subside on their own. There are no long-term effects from Swimmer’s Itch. Sufferers may get relief from oral antihistamines or topical salves or ointments.

To avoid Swimmer’s Itch, swimmers in suspect waters should leave the water every 10 minutes and vigorously towel dry. This will help remove the parasites before they burrow into the skin.


Please contact the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Environmental Health, at (707) 445-6215 or 1-800-963-9241 for further information on Swimmer’s Itch. If you have questions about treatment, call your doctor.


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