My mom just got home from visiting us in Minnesota and is currently complaining of a mosquito bite. “We don’t have mosquitoes where I’m from,” she says.
I used to think that Minnesota’s greatest itches were mosquitoes and poison ivy. Well now I know of one more – swimmer’s itch.
I have swimmer’s itch. And only you, my husband, my mom, and two other people know about it.
For the record, swimmer’s itch is not contagious and it’s way more complicated than a simple itch. It’s actually a parasite that has me confused with either a duck or a snail. It’s fairly common in lakes and ponds and usually goes away within a week or so. (I hope.)
All this I learned within the last 10 days. And up until 10 days ago, swimming in the lake was my favorite, Minnesota summer pastime.
The kiddos and I swim probably 2 to 3 times a week at the local lake. And up until last week, the biggest problem we’ve had to deal with were couples making out in the water and goose poop along the shore (in that order).
Last week I was swimming with my seven-year-old. He asked me to swim out to the buoy to see whether or not I could touch bottom. Because I do what my kids tell me to do, I swam out to the buoy and I touched the bottom. But as I was swimming back, that’s when it happened.
Like a hornet’s nest in my skivvies, out of nowhere something very invisible and very aggressive started biting my nethers. Bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite. The intruders were stinging me furiously from one side of my rib cage to the other. Bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite. BITE! I scrambled to get whatever it was out of my suit.
And then, it was over. Huh, I thought. That was weird. Wonder what that was. I never really saw anything, and it went away as fast as it came. The kids kept swimming, but I got out of the water to eat some potato chips and contemplate what had just happened.
Nothing seemed to come of it, but the next morning, I woke up itching all over. It was like the chicken pox from third grade. Then I discovered twenty-one raised welts all around my midsection.
At first I thought it was spider bites. Nope. Then I thought maybe it was shingles. Yikes! And then my husband, after further inspection, smiled knowingly. “What!?” I asked.
He replied nonchalantly, “It’s just swimmer’s itch. Take a Benadryl and it’ll go away in a few days.”
I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far in life and never heard of or experienced swimmer’s itch. Well, now I know.
The next time we went to the beach (I had to give it a few days because I was a little apprehensive), I saw a little, orange sign staked in the sand. It read: This water has been treated with copper sulfate. Copper sulfate is used to clear the swimming area of bacteria and swimmer’s itch.
Apparently, my mother and I aren’t the only ones itching this week.