Diagnosing swimmer's itch can be a challenge because the rash can resemble other skin problems, such as poison ivy. There are no specific tests to diagnose swimmer's itch.
Swimmer's itch typically clears up on its own within a week. In the meantime, you can control itching with over-the-counter antihistamines or anti-itch creams, such as those that contain calamine. If the itching is severe, your doctor may recommend a prescription medication.
Lifestyle and home remedies
These tips might help reduce the itch:
- Apply a cream or medication.
- Don't scratch.
- Cover affected areas with a clean, wet washcloth.
- Soak in a bath sprinkled with Epsom salts, baking soda or oatmeal.
- Make a paste of baking soda and water, and then apply it to the affected areas.
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. Or you may be referred immediately to a specialist in skin conditions (dermatologist).
What you can do
Before your appointment, you might want to write a list of answers to the following questions:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have you been swimming or wading outdoors recently?
- Did anyone else who went swimming with you develop a rash?
- What medications and supplements do you take regularly?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
July 18, 2019
- Parasites: Cercarial dermatitis (also known as swimmer's itch). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/swimmersitch/faqs.html. Accessed Oct. 11, 2016.
- Auerbach PS, et al. Aquatic skin disorders. In: Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clincalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 11, 2016.