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Swimmer's Itch

Facts & tips from our lake biologist, Kelsey Froelich

As the weather starts to warm up, so will the lake temperatures and that means one thing - swimming! Lime Lake has pristine waters which make for a delightful swimming experience, however some people may develop swimmer’s itch after swimming in the water. Swimmer’s itch is caused by a parasite that lives in our waters and is part of our healthy freshwater ecosystem. You can learn more about swimmer’s itch here. While it is a nuisance to get itchy bumps after swimming, it’s important to know that this parasite does not hurt humans in any way.


Did you know?


The Lime Lake Association (LLA) has a history of supporting swimmer’s itch research and monitoring with the hope of finding more prevention strategies. We know that there are at least 3 different species of swimmer’s itch cycling through Lime Lake, each with a different snail and waterfowl host. There was even a new species of swimmer’s itch discovered right here on Lime Lake, thanks in part to the LLA’s support!


There has also been evidence that some simple prevention strategies can be used to reduce your chances of getting swimmer’s itch. They are:


  • Cover your skin with full body swimwear (Swimmer's itch rarely affects hands, feet and face and BONUS- this eliminates the need for sunscreen on covered areas!)

  • Swim in the afternoon or early evening rather than the morning (Swimmer’s itch risk is greatest before noon)

  • Swim in deeper water

  • Use a parasite skimmer net to remove swimmer's itch from surface water

  • Avoid swimming during an onshore wind

  • Use a ‘kiddie pool’ filled with well water for small children vs shoreline lake swimming

  • Towel off very well immediately after swimming (certain species of swimmer’s itch ‘stick’ to your skin and don’t penetrate until you leave the water)

Don’t forget to report your swimmer’s itch cases to our collaborators at University of Alberta, so that LLA can monitor the severity of swimmer’s itch on our lake!



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