This blog explains swimmer’s itch treatment by homeopathic medicines along with its causes, symptoms, risk factors, and management for a complete cure.
If your summer has ever included cooling off with a nice swim in a lake, you might be acquainted with something called swimmer’s itch.
Swimmer’s itch also known as cercarial dermatitis is an allergic immune reaction in which the itchy red appears on the exposed parts of the skin after you go swimming, and it can last for a week or more.
It is caused by a parasite that burrows into your skin and then dies there. The parasite is the type of flatworm called schistosomes common in fresh water and responsible for causing swimmer’s itch.
Children affects more commonly and more intensely than adults and also males are usually more affected than females. Although, there is no permanent effect of swimmer’s itch on the body have seen yet they are irritating and cause tingling, burning, and itching of the skin.
It is a non-contagious skin disease and does not spread from person to person only by touch.
Now, the question arises how and why do we get swimmer’s itch? As we know the causing agent of swimmer’s itch is a parasite called schistosomes that are water-borne flatworms.
Each schistosome species specializes in a specific bird or mammal host. Some schistosome species target humans, causing a debilitating disease called schistosomiasis.
The parasite that causes swimmer’s itch is part of a different group of species whose hosts include ducks, geese, and muskrats. That itchy rash is what happens when one of these schistosomes larvae makes mistake.
Adult parasite lives in their host’s blood, and when they lay eggs, the host eventually excretes them out in the stool. The eggs end up in the water where they hatch into larvae that swim around in search of the aquatic snails that they need to infect to complete the next stage of their life cycle.
The baby schistosomes continue to multiply and develop inside the snail, and eventually, the infected snail releases the second type of larvae called cercariae into the water. This is where swimmers’ itch gets its technical name cercarial dermatitis.
When this baby parasite burrows into the human swimmer’s skin they can’t develop there and so they die, and they trigger an allergic reaction as they break down. That’s what all the itching and redness is from.
Usually, the lesion appears as an erythematous papule at the site of cercarial penetration. But, a more widespread lesion may occur with reinfestation by the same species and end up in developing the different types of skin lesions.
Small reddish pimples appear on the skin within 10 to 12 hours of exposure. The pimples may develop into small blisters and cause burning, tingling, and itching sensation. It can heal up by itself within a week.
Sometimes the lesion of Swimmer’s itch appears as an urticarial lesion or hives associated with the dissemination of the cercariae or the laying of eggs by the adult flukes. The lesion is marked by red, slightly elevated papules and often attended with pruritis.
3. Granulomatous and warty lesion
The warty vegetating lesion of the genital and perineal skin appears that is secondary to the deposition of ova in the dermal vessel. Genital and perineal lesions show hyperkeratosis and acanthosis.
The symptoms of Swimmer’s itch include: –
- Itchy skin rashes begin within 2 hours of swimming in a freshwater lake.
- Burning of the skin
- Small red spots
- Small red lumps on the skin after 1 to 2 days.
- Hyperkeratosis of the skin due to repetitive infection
- Hyperpigmentation due to severely scratching
The symptoms tend to get worse with the repetitive infection by the parasite.
- Young children are at great risk of swimmer’s itch than adults. Duration of swimming is also correlated with increased risk.
- Humans usually become infected with the parasite after swimming in lakes of slow-moving fresh water.
- People who are repeatedly exposed to cercariae infection can develop heavier symptoms with the fastest onset.
- Onshore winds are thought to cause cercariae (larval stage) to accumulate along shorelines. Tendency to catch swimmer’s itch more on the shorelines of lakes and ponds.
- The risk of swimmer’s itch is more around the margins of water bodies because it is the place where the larva gets accumulated.
- Some studies and laboratory investigations indicate that the snail shed cercariae mostly in the morning and on summer days and lesser in the winter.
- There is a risk of skin infection also if you scratch your skin too vigorously the eruption will get open up and bleed. So, try to avoid scratching your skin. Gentle rubbing will be okay.
The doctors are usually diagnosing a swimmer’s itch by visual examination and by signs and symptoms experienced by the patients. In some cases, you may have tests to check some other health problems especially if there is any severity in the itch.
There is no certain test available for the diagnosis of swimmer’s itch however, the Dr will ask some questions to the patient to confirm the diagnosis.
The diagnosis of the Swimmer’s itch begins with complete medical history. The doctor will ask whether the patient went to the pool, lake, or any pond for swimming and did the patient get this kind of itch earlier or not.
The diagnosis is usually made clinically, the rashes are limited to areas of the skin that are exposed directly to water so skin covered with a swimming costume is typically protected. It may look similar to chicken pox and may develop blisters.
- One of the major preventive measures to avoid the swimmer’s itch is to reduce the parasite numbers in the environment. It is important to swim in a pool or lake free of contaminants and pathogens.
- If you swim in water that is contaminated you are susceptible to developing swimmer’s itch. So, avoid swimming in the area where swimmer’s itch is a known problem.
- During a swimmer’s itch outbreak, it is advised to use oatmeal or menthol cream to help ease symptoms. You can also add baking soda to your bath water to prevent the swimmer’s itch bacteria.
- Maintain the appropriate disinfectant level in the water to prevent the swimmer’s itch. Chlorine is commonly used to kill pathogens. If you suspect your pool has been exposed to swimmer’s itch your water will look cloudy or dull in appearance.
- To treat cloudy water that may contain the parasite, shock the pool, and retest the water after the shock has had time to settle to ensure it’s safe for swimmers.
- Sanitize your water with an ultraviolet disinfection system. The ultraviolet system uses powerful germicidal rays to destroy more than 99.5% of contaminants.
- Always apply water repellant substances such as water sunscreen, or Vaseline petroleum jelly before going into the pool, and also rinse your body properly after swimming.
Homeopathy is a holistic system of medicine that treats not only the symptoms of the disease but also the man who is suffering from the disease.
So, after a complete detailed history of present and past disease and considering the family history, a drug is prescribed based on every patient’s individualization.
In mild cases, improvement can be seen within weeks, whereas severe cases will take a longer time.
Now, let’s go through some of the homeopathic medicines that can help Swimmer’s itch. Some of the best homeopathic medicines for the treatment of swimmer’s itch are mentioned below.
- Apis mellifica
- Natrum muriaticum
- Arsenicum album
- Rhus tox
- Hepar sulph
- Merc sol.
- Kalium sulphuricum
- Kalium bichromicum
Graphites are a wonderful remedy for treating skin-related conditions. For those who develop swimmer’s itch and have red pimples and blisters on the skin with eruption oozing out a sticky exudation, this remedy will work wonders. The skin is unhealthy and every little injury suppurates.
Dosage and potency: 30c, 200c 4 globules (pills) dissolved in half a cup of water 3 times a day.
2. Sulphur: for burning and stinging pain with itching
Sulphur is a well-indicated medicine for managing skin itching that tends to wander from one place to another. There is burning and stinging on the skin with an itching sensation and scratching gives relief to the symptoms.
The itching is so violent that the people scratch the skin till it bleeds followed by pain and soreness in that area.
Dosage and potency: 200c, 4 globes in half cup of water thrice a day till the symptom disappear.
Apis mellifica is an effective medicine for treating the symptoms of a swimmer’s itch especially when the rashes are raised and have stinging pain. There is intolerable itching and burning of the skin relieved by Apis mellifica.
Dosage and potency: 30c, 200c, take 4 drops of dilution in half a cup of water twice a day, till the improvement is seen.
Natrum muriaticum can be given to the patient who develops blisters on the skin after the attack of the swimmer’s itch. The skin is greasy and oily on hairy parts.
The blisters are itching violently and burn. These patients are mentally depressed and irritable and their mental symptoms get aggravates by consolation.
Dosage and potency: 200c potency take 4 globules (pills) twice a day till the improvement occurs.
Arsenicum album is a well-known remedy for treating skin-related issues especially when there is burning on the skin and scratching the makes the condition worse. There is oversensitivity to the skin. Pimple-like eruption or blisters filled with watery fluid present on the skin with the burning of the skin and offensiveness of the discharge.
Dosage and potency: 200c potency of dilution, take 2-3 drops in half cup of water twice a day, till the symptoms disappear.
Psorinum is well-indicated medicine for managing and treating the skin eruption developed after a swimmer’s itch. The itching gets worse with the warmth of the bed and patients are inclined to scratch the skin until it bleeds.
The characteristic feature of selecting this medicine is that the sebaceous gland secretes excessively, oily skin
Dosage and potency: 30c, 200c potency, take 2-3 drops of dilution in half cup of water and take twice a day till the improvement.
Rhus Toxicodendron is a significant medicine for treating swimmer’s itch when there are small blisters along with marked redness appearing on the skin. There is a burning eczematous eruption with the tendency to scale formation.
Also, the blisters have watery fluid in them, and rubbing the affected skin area increases the eruptions most times.
Dosage and potency: 30c, 200c, 4 globules (pills) twice a day till the improvement is seen.
Eruptions that are sensitive and sore to touch and suppurate with prickly pain are highly treated by Hepar sulph. The eruption bleeds very easily and is sensitive to contact and also the patients can’t bear to be uncovered. It is indicated for cases of a skin infection when pus discharge is present.
Sepia is indicated to treat the rashes of swimmer’s itch when there is itching along with a tingling sensation in it. After scratching the tingling sensation turns into a burning sensation and the area becomes red in appearance.
It is also an important remedy for treating urticarial lesion that develops due to recurrent infection by the parasite. The lesions are better in warm rooms and get worse in the open air.
Dosage and potency: 30c, 200c take 3-4 drops of dilution in half a cup of water twice a day.
Kali sulphuricum is an indicated medicine for treating popular eruption on the skin with abundant scars. This remedy is known for bringing oxygen to your skin and is also applicable to the later stage of inflammation
Dosage and potency:- 6x potency take one tablet twice a day for 15 days.
12. Kali bichromicum: for the rashes that resemble smallpox
Kali bichromicum is an effective medicine for treating the rashes of swimmer’s itch having pustular eruptions and resemble as smallpox. There is also burning pain in the eruption that has violent itching.
Dosage and potency: 200c potency, take four globules under the tongue, twice a day for 15 days or until the improvement appears.