Swimmer’s Itch Warning Signs up at Devil’s Lake State Park

BARABOO (CHANNEL 3000) Signs have been posted at Devil’s Lake State Park warning visitors about reported cases of swimmer’s itch.

The rash is caused by a flatworm present in the water that comes from snails.

“We’ve had swimmer’s itch here since long before I was here, and each year it usually comes toward the end of June and the first part of July,” said Steve Schmelzer, superintendent of Devil’s Lake State Park.

The flatworms get on the skin of swimmers and will eventually burrow beneath the skin, causing an allergic reaction.

“It is like a bunch of mosquito bites. It is not fun at all,” said Tim Tully, who got swimmer’s itch several years ago.

While swimmer’s itch is very uncomfortable, it does not pose a long-term health concern.

“It is self-limiting. So once the allergic reaction starts it is just a matter of time before it resolves itself, but in the meantime we really are looking at managing the itching, and that starts with really basic good skin care hydration using gentle cleansers, using moisturizers, thick creams or ointments,” said Dr. Apple Bodemer, a dermatologist with UW Health.

If you do swim in areas where swimmer’s itch has been reported, it is suggested that you shower after leaving the water. It is also recommended that you dry your skin with a towel after leaving the water.

Swimmer’s itch is not unique to Devil’s Lake State Park. It occurs in a variety of countries around the world where the snails are present.

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