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Swimmer’s Itch

Swimmer's Itch is caused by microscopic larvae that dig into the skin when they come into contact with it. Although humans are not suitable hosts, the microscopic larvae can burrow into the swimmer’s skin and may cause an allergic reaction and rash. The resulting acne-like rash is very itchy and can cover the entire body. The rash generally lasts from one week to ten days, and there are no long-term effects. Swimmer’s itch can occur in freshwater and saltwater.

Seabather's Eruption

Seabather's Eruption normally follows the lines of a swimmer's bathing suit and is caused by anemone and jellyfish larvae that are extremely small. These organisms will get caught in a swimmer’s bathing suit and sting causing the rash. A stinging sensation or itchiness from their stings can begin almost immediately after leaving the water. Unfortunately, itching can last up to fourteen days. Like swimmer's itch, there are no long-term effects. Seabather’s Eruption is most commonly encountered after swimming in saltwater.


•  Wash out your swimsuit or any other clothing worn in the water with soap and freshwater (not seawater).

•  Apply over the counter (OTC) anti-itch creams such as hydrocortisone to affected areas to avoid scratching, which could cause scarring.

•  Take OTC anti-allergy medicines (antihistamines), such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), to relieve symptoms.

Call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site for questions or for further treatment advice.

Last Updated on 12/29/2023