What is River Rash?

Warmer days are here. For many that means it’s a perfect time to go swimming or boating in a nearby lake or river. Before you dive in, it is important to under what river rash is.

What is river rash?

River rash also goes by another common name – swimmer’s itch. The official term for river rash and swimmer’s itch is cercarial dermatitis. It appears as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites found in lakes, ponds, rivers, and oceans. While the parasite’s preferred host is a bird or mammal, if it comes in contact with a swimmer, it burrows itself into the skin causing a rash.

What are the signs of river rash?

Symptoms may include tingling, burning, or itchy skin, small reddish pimples, or blisters. These symptoms can develop anywhere from minutes to 12 hours after contact. It is important to understand that scratching the infected areas should be avoided as it can lead to secondary infections.

How do you treat river rash?

Most cases of river rash do not require treatment. If the rash is causing discomfort, you may try the following:

  • Use an over-the-counter corticosteroid cream
  • Apply a cool compress to the area
  • Bathe in Epsom salts or colloidal oatmeal baths
  • Use an anti-itch cream

If the rash worsens over time, please see your dermatologist to rule out any secondary infections.

Do you have a skin, hair, or nail concern?

The board-certified dermatologists at Forefront Dermatology are here to answer and address and of your concerns surrounding your skin, hair and nail health. Find a location nearest you to schedule an appointment.