Podcast 610: Swimmers Itch - The Emergency Medical Minute

Podcast 610: Swimmers Itch

Contributor: John Winkler, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Swimmers itch is due to a flatworm parasitic infection that causes an itchy rash after the worm burrows into the skin
  • The flatworm is passed between bird and snail hosts
  • The itch is due to the death of the parasite under the skin which leads to an extremely itchy reaction.
  • The rash can be difficult to identify, often erythematous and macular but can develop papules and vesicles eventually scaling
  • The treatment is diphenhydramine for milder cases and steroids for more severe cases


Kolářová L, Horák P, Skírnisson K, Marečková H, Doenhoff M. Cercarial dermatitis, a neglected allergic disease. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2013 Aug;45(1):63-74. doi: 10.1007/s12016-012-8334-y. PMID: 22915284


Summarized by Jackson Roos, MS4 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD

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