Our lakes are no longer so safe as they used to be some twenty years ago. Swimming, although still a pleasure, can have side effects we do not like.

Our lakes are unfortunately no longer clean. Too many sorts of waste are thrown into the waters. People do not think of the danger for the lake population. The quality of the water suffers from that waste. When swimming, we may encounter various strains of schistosomes. There are eggs of this parasite that burrow into the skin of people who are swimming. These eggs cause itchy bumps within minutes to hours of exposure.

Fortunately, these parasites cause only rashes on your skin. And, of course, also itchy bumps. These may disappear within at the latest one week.

In rare cases the rashes are accompanied by chills and an upset stomach. Sometimes you can observe diarrhea. Most of these conditions disappear within a week. There are no other illnesses that will follow.

If the hives are very bad and itchy, you can treat them with antihistamine and cortisone under the form of creams to be applied locally.

The best prevention is taking a bath immediately after swimming.

In any case, avoid shallow water. In fact, close to the lake shores, parasites are present in great numbers. These parasites can attack skin and cause rashes. These rashes may be mild or in some cases rather bad. The more sensitive the skin, the more important is prevention.

It is possible to find other allergens in lake water. Some of them can be very dangerous. Like discharge of chemicals from factories or human waste. Avoid in any case to swim in areas where there are sewage waters brought into the lake. If you are unaware of this and go swimming, you might get ill. Your stomach might seriously get upset with diarrhea and vomiting. If this is the case, seek immediately medical help.

Another thing to avoid, is the difference of water temperature. If you swim in cold water, you expose yourself to more danger.

Let us review what to do:

Go and swim in fresh water lakes and do it offshore. Never swim in dirty water. Water should be clear.

Never swim or stay close to the shore. The shallow waters of the shores are full of parasites.

After having had your swim, get yourself into a warm bath and then dry your skin.

If your skin presents a rash, do not scratch. Even if it is itchy. The more you touch it or scratch, the worse it becomes.

If the itchiness is strong, treat the affected spots with an antihistamine or cortisone cream. The rash should disappear at the latest within a week. If there is a more serious disease after your swimming in a fresh water lake, get medical help.

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