[TREATMENT & PREVENTION]
Photo courtesy of Villa Montana Beach Resort
Treatment of cercariae dermatitis is based on reducing the inflammatory response. Antipruritc medications or lotions are usually adequate. Antihistamines or steroids may be useful in cases of extensive inflammatory responses.
Several individual measures can be taken to prevent the disease as well:
Avoid prolonged exposure to shoreline lake water, especially in areas with foliage. When swimming, stay in deeper water. Avoid swimming where snails have accumulated. The snails and their parasites tend to congregate in sandy or vegetated areas by the shoreline.
Don’t feed the ducks or other water birds. Water fowl, infected or otherwise, tend to congregate around food sources.
Remove swimsuits immediately. Towel dry and shower after leaving the lake. The parasites burrow into the skin as they begin to dehydrate from the evaporating water, thus brisk toweling and bathing may remove the parasites prior to burrowing.
Some cercaricides and repellents (eg. dimethylphthalate and dibutylphthalate) are useful for short periods of time when applied directly to the skin.
Check with the local health department and local residents for current lake conditions and any reports of swimmer’s itch as prevalence of the parasite may vary from year to year.
However, on a larger scale prevention has not been as easily accomplished. Piping water to villages seems to have only a minor effect unless the water is first treated thoroughly. Destruction of snails by molluscicides and weed clearance from streams and canals are ecologically and financially unfeasible.