What can be done to prevent or to reduce swimmer’s itch?

  • Avoid swimming for long periods of time in shallow water
  • Avoid swimming in areas where swimmer’s itch is a problem and where there is an onshore wind
  • Post appropriate signs on beaches where swimmer’s itch is an annual problem
  • Do not encourage birds to stay in your area by feeding them
  • Avoid placing rip-rap on your shoreline. This provides an excellent surface for certain species of snails to attach their eggs. The higher the number of snails, the greater the chance for swimmer’s itch
  • Vigorously towel off after swimming

What can our lake association do about swimmer’s itch?

Lake associations can do several things to help combat outbreaks of swimmer’s itch:

  • join MISIP to learn about and participate in the most current efforts to reduce and eradicate swimmer's itch.
  • educate members about swimmer’s itch
  • assess the problem of swimmer’s itch on its lake
  • make recommendations for relieving the itching
  • begin a control program if swimmer’s itch is a regular problem
  • participate in research programs to further understand the lifecycle and promote new techniques to reduce swimmer's itch
  • encourage your members to report incidents of swimmer's itch on MISIP website

What can individuals do who have a bad case of swimmer’s itch?

They should see a doctor and ask for a prescription to relieve the itching. Also many topical, over-the-counter creams can help reduce the swelling.

What types of control programs are available in Michigan to combat swimmer’s itch?

For more than 50 years, the application of copper sulfate as a molluscicide was used on some of the larger recreational lakes to break the life cycle by killing the snail intermediate hosts. Although this method is still used, fewer lakes are requesting permits because of the uncertainty of long-term consequences to a particular lake and because the desired results may not be obtained.

A second method that has been found to be highly effective is to trap the birds and remove them from the lake.  Reports are available from this type of control work that occurred on Higgins Lake during 2015 and 2016.

Note:  Material in this section is excerpted from the former website of SICON and its former partners, Curt Blankespoor and Ron Reimink.  Many thanks.