Itch at the Beach: What Causes Rashes After Swimming in the Ocean?

Itch at the Beach: What Causes Rashes After Swimming in the Ocean?

May 22, 2019

A dip into the ocean is not a refreshing experience if your swim is always followed by a very itchy rash. Not only does it ruin your entire vacation, but it can also ruin your skin if it gets worse. There are many causes of itchy rashes after swimming. Microscopic organisms cause special types of rashes after swimming either in saltwater or freshwater.

Seabather’s Eruption

This is an itchy rash that occurs after swimming in the ocean and being exposed to jellyfish-like larvae. They get trapped between the skin and the swimwear, wetsuit, surfboard, or any other object causing an itchy burning skin rash on areas covered by clothing.

The symptoms often start while the person is still in the water, and can still occur many hours after exposure. It is advised not to scratch the area, as this makes the larvae release a toxin into the skin as a result of friction. Aside from skin rashes, a person may also experience fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, headache, and diarrhea.

Swimmer’s Itch

Also known as cercarial dermatitis, this occurs when a person swims in contaminated water with schistosomes, which are found on freshwater. However, it can also be found in marine habitats. The parasite enters the body and causes an allergic rash as it dies. The bumpy, red rash usually occur on areas not covered by a bathing suit. It occurs within a day of exposure to contaminated water, and usually goes away within a week without treatment. Swimmer’s itch is also not contagious.

Diving Suit Dermatitis

This is caused by a common bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This bacteria can grow in neoprene diving suits if not cleaned properly with a 0.45 percent lactic acid. This can be prevented by keeping the diving suit clean. This kind of rash may require antibiotics to clear up. But it is still best to consult the doctor to get proper prescription.

Seaweed Dermatitis

This type of dermatitis arises from exposure to a poisonous type of seaweed found in ocean waters throughout the world. It can also be confused with seabather’s eruption because it affects the areas that are covered by swimwear. However, as your skin dries after getting out of the water, toxic chemicals found in tiny bits of seaweed that gets trapped in the fabric of your suit irritate your skin, thereby causing an itchy rash.

There are over-the-counter products such as corticosteroid creams that can ease the itch, as well as cool compresses or ice packs after a swim in the ocean. However, if they fail to relieve your symptoms or your condition worsens, talk to your doctor about other treatment options.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.