By Ron Stockburn
Due to the large number of Sea Gulls along Tiny’s Beaches, this skin irritation has become quite common, especially during the heat of August. It is a temporary condition that results when swimmers become part of the life cycle of a parasite that flourishes in aquatic birds. The parasite starts its life cycle in fresh water snails which are part of the bird’s diet. Droppings from the birds infest the water with the parasite which transfers to the skin of swimmers. It penetrates the skin but since human beings are an unsuitable host it dies in the skin resulting in localized symptoms such as a distinct itching sensation and red spots enlarging to form separate bumps up to 1/4 inch in diameter.
A brisk rubdown after swimming may prevent infestation as the parasite does not penetrate the skin until the water evaporates. Once infested a regular application of antiseptic speeds up the healing process while calamine lotion helps relieve the itch.