Health department warns residents about cases of Swimmer's Itch in Greenwich

WABC logo
Monday, July 31, 2023
Health department warns residents about cases of Swimmer's Itch in CT
The Greenwich Department of Health is warning the public about Swimmer's Itch after receiving multiple reports at several area beaches. Joe Torres has the story.

GREENWICH, Connecticut (WABC) -- The Greenwich Department of Health is warming the public about Swimmer's Itch after receiving multiple reports at several area beaches.

Swimmer's Itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, appears as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites that are released from snails into fresh and salt water.

Although humans are not the parasite's preferred host, they can come into contact with a swimmer and cause an allergic reaction and rash.

"Me and some of the other guards have been like bit, and like the little bugs get caught in your bathing suit and they like keep biting you," lifeguard Piper Dorsey said.

The rash is not contagious and cannot be spread from one person to another.

Children are more susceptible because they tend to wade for longer periods of time. Experts say to shower and towel dry immediately after a swim -- or avoid the water completely.

"It really could be from hours to even a few days afterwards, but again it would be an appearance of pimples or blisters, you would know, and it might be itchy," said Dr. Christopher Davison, the ER Medical Director at Greenwich Hospital.

The warning is especially frustrating for those who paid for the daily entrance fee and beach parking pass after there were no posted notifications alerting people of the possible risk.

Out-of-town resident Lauren Boccardi brought six family members to the beach on Monday. When she checked the water conditions on the town website, she saw nothing about Swimmer's Itch. She said had she known, their plans would have changed.

"We've got a lot of kids here and obviously we don't want to deal with any medical issues, especially on vacations," Boccardi said.

Swimmer's Itch symptoms

  • Tingling, burning or itching of the skin within minutes or days
  • Appearance of small reddish pimples on the skin within about 12 hours
  • Small blisters may occur at the site of the small pimples within a short period of time
  • Swimmer's Itch treatment

  • Use of corticosteroid cream
  • Application of cool compresses to the affected area
  • Bathe in Epsom salts or baking soda
  • Soak in colloidal oatmeal baths
  • Application of a baking soda paste to the rash
  • Use of anti-itch lotion
  • Swimmer's Itch prevention

  • Towel dry and shower immediately after leaving the bathing water. This includes thoroughly rinsing areas beneath the bathing suit.
  • Decide on whether to swim in the water noting that signs have been posted about Swimmer's Itch being reported from the recreation swimming area and being posted at same beach locations as a precautionary measure.
  • ALSO READ | NJ-bound flight from Boston re-routed after passenger allegedly threatened plane

    Authorities searched the passenger when the flight returned to the Boston airport and deemed he wasn't a threat.


    * More Connecticut news

    * Send us a news tip

    * Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

    * Follow us on YouTube

    Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

    Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.