Swimmers itch, or "chiggers" is usually caused by a parasite that usually lives on migratory birds, such as ducks.
The parasite can survive and swim away from the duck and it can find humans. When it does it burrows beneath the skin and causes a rash and an itching sensation.
"Swimmers itch is usually a problem from about June 15 through July 4th," said Paynesville Public Works Director Ron Mergen.
When it gets this warm staying out of the lakes really isn't an option, so people should towel off and shower as quickly as possible after getting out of the lake.
"The best thing to do to avoid getting swimmers itch is to shower off," added Mergen.
Another thing that could be done to avoid getting swimmers itch, is to avoid swimming near shore areas. If possible swim off a boat or raft away from shallow water or shoreline areas.
Mergen also said the city had treated the Veteran's Memorial Park swimming area so it should be safe to resume swimming there.
The city treats the problem with a Copper Sulfate (CuSo4) solution. Since everything was treated last week, the beach is safe to swim in again.
There is really no way to eliminate the problem in the Paynesville and surrounding areas. The reason for this is that Minnesota has such a high waterfowl population and as long as the birds are nesting in Minnesota the problem will probably always be here.
There are several over-the-counter medications that can be used to find relief from swimmers itch, usually cortizone creams or something along those lines.
This area of Minnesota will probably see swimmers itch for many years to come, so in the meantime central Minnesota residents will just have to live with the inconvience.
Return to Archives