How to treat Swimmer Itch (Duck Itch)

What is Swimmer’s Itch?

Growing up in Canada everyone knows what duck itch or swimmers itch is and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t had it. Once it flares up it resembles chicken pox.  It’s a ‘worm-like’ parasite that burrows in the skin resulting in itchy spots and usually lasts 3-5 days.

How not to get it!

Duck itch does not occur in all lakes in Canada but can be found in lakes with ducks and plants.  It’s normally easy to avoid by simply toweling off after swimming or having a shower, but as you can see we were not camping in an area with a toilet block.  It was rather rustic.

Free Camping Stump Lake BC

My daughter started itching as soon as she came out of the water, I honestly thought it was the sun-screen that I had borrowed from one of my cousins.  However, the next day, I got the ‘mummy look at this’ and within a nanosecond I knew what it was, as my cousin had a serious bout of it last year from the same lake.  Apparently, the itching happens immediately as this is when the parasites are burrowing under the skin!  I bet you’re now scratching.  ;-)

What does duck itch look like?

Weirdly, all of the adults had been in the same water with her and didn’t get it.  I’m guessing it was because we probably toweled off, although I can’t remember and she simply dried in the sun.

Stump Lake, BC

We were very lucky as she didn’t suffer from too much itching nor required taping oven gloves to her hands to stop her scratching.

Here is what we did:

  • Dash to the pharmacy to get supplies (children’s antihistamine, baking soda and calamine lotion)
  • In Canada, I purchased Children’s Benylin, I’m not sure what the UK equivalent is  so check with the pharmacist.  According to the instructions we were able to give her a dose every four hours but please do check.
  • When she had a bath we added a tablespoon of baking soda, which seemed to have a soothing affect.
  • If she started itching I applied calamine lotion, as you can see I used a cotton bud, which was very time consuming, but have now learned that you can actually smear it all over.

Using Calamine Lotion for Swimmer's Itch

Girls Romper Suit

Thanks to all of this the pesky little buggers didn’t ruin our holiday.

Disclosure:  The playsuit was compliments of Littlewoods.