Cercarial dermatitis/ Swimmer’s itch

Cercarial dermatitis/ Swimmer’s itch – Ayurvedic Treatment, Diet, Exercises, Research Papers, Yoga & Pranayama


A non-contagious skin infection affecting swimmers which is caused by a parasite, found abundantly in both fresh and saline water. It is found worldwide and common in summer season. It is characterised by reddish skin rashes with itching. Usually, the symptoms begin to appear when the person is still in water but it disappears within a few hours. It may re-appear after about 10-15 hours and sometimes as blisters. No medical intervention is needed as the rashes and itching usually subside by itself within a week.

A person who came into contact with the contaminated water may develop itching, tingling/ burning sensation over the exposed skin surface, small reddish eruptions and rarely blisters. The parasite cannot invade the blood stream of humans. The itching is self-limiting within few days. People with sensitive skin may have more severe symptoms.

Causes of Cercarial dermatitis

 Cercarial dermatitis is caused by a parasitic worm found in water resources. Human is not a host in its life cycle but accidently comes in contact with human skin during their search for other hosts. The infected waterfowls pass the eggs of the parasites through their faeces into the water. The eggs then hatch out as larvae and infect a species of snails in which the further development of the parasite occurs. The snails then excrete the larvae (cercariae) which is at their second developmental stage into the water. The cercariae then infect other waterfowls or water animals. The life cycle of the larvae is about 24 hours but it often differs with temperature and sunlight. The parasite can reach anywhere in the world as the waterfowls are migratory birds.

  Swimming in contaminated water or water resources close to sea shore especially during summer may impose a risk. Children and persons with history of allergy or previous history of swimmer’s itch are at higher risk.

Treatment of Cercarial dermatitis

  No specific treatment is required for Cercarial dermatitis. Application of anti-itch lotion or corticosteroid cream over the affected area, cold compress and bathing in water mixed with baking soda, or Epsom salt are found effective.

Complications of Cercarial dermatitis

 The itching is self-limiting and do not result in any complications. But some coloured spots are left after the rashes have disappeared.

Preventive measures of Cercarial dermatitis

 People should be aware about the condition and avoid swimming in affected/ suspected water sources especially in summer season. Pre-treatment of pools with chlorine can prevent the problem up to an extent. In order to eliminate the infectious agent, the waterfowls are treated with anti-worm drug and the snails are killed.

Ayurvedic Concept of Cercarial dermatitis

              Ayurveda details skin diseases as 18 types and in the name of various Kushtha. The word Kushtha means that which causes disfigurement. Cercarial dermatitis is understood in the light of Ayurveda as the type of Kushtha (skin diseases). The classification goes depending upon mostly depending upon the clinical manifestation and the skin rashes. In this way, cercarial dermatitis can be compared to Vicharchika and the dominant Humours can be understood as Kapha and Pitta.

Ayurvedic Nidana of Cercarial dermatitis

Unhealthy diet habits with opposite potency

Improper routine and habits

Bad deeds like theft that leading to emotional stress and ends up in repentance/fear/anxiety

Any factor that leading to excess vitiation of Kapha and Pitta

Here the Nidana includes excessive Jalasparsa or contact with (condaminated/polluted) water.

Ayurvedic treatment for Cercarial dermatitis

              In acute cases the treatment should be done as a whole-body therapy, as the areas affected may shift from time to time. The vitiated doshas may travel all over the body leading to skin rashes manifested in various areas of the body, especially in skin folds and private parts.

Samana procedures include herbal pastes with dry herbs on the skin, covering the affected area. After the Aama is removed, herbal ointments containing ghee can be applied externally for complete relief.

Sodhana therapies are the best choice in all kind of skin diseases, unless indicated otherwise. Virechana or therapeutically induced purgation followed by restricted diet as Peyaadi krama will give a complete or remarkable cure in cases of cercarial dermatitis. This can be done after proper Sneha-sweda(oil & ghee formulations & sweating therapies) in suitable cases.

Herbal Preparations for Cercarial dermatitis

Aragwadhadi kashayam

            Patolamuladi kashayam


            Arogyavardhini vati

            Nimbadi choornam



            Rasothamadi lepam

Diet & Regimen

Food should be dry, warm, fresh and home-made.

Avoid oil, fats, diary products and sticky in nature. Avoid any known allergens like nuts/certain fish.

Avoid excess sweet, salty and sour food items, Take Tikta taste instead.

Keep the body dry and clean, avoid soaking the body/ keeping the skin wet for a long time.

Yoga & Pranayama

Certain Asanas like Ardhakatichakrasana, Savasana, Pavanamuktasana etc help in relaxation, improved circulation and better immune response. Anulom-Vilom Pranayama helps in clearing the airways and body channels. Nadeesuddhi pranayama helps in removing the metabolic toxins from the body and improves general health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, United States. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please consult your GP before the intake.

Please consult Dr. Rajesh Nair here-



Ayurveda Expert, India
Dr. Rajesh Nair, Consultant, Ayurvedaforall

Dr. Rajesh Nair, the co-founder and chief consultant of Ayurvedaforall.Com, is a graduate of prestigious Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College (affiliated with the University of Calicut), Kerala, India. Additionally, he holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy from Annamalai University.

Dr. Nair offers consultation at two busy clinics in and around Haripad, Alleppey, Kerala, the southern state famous worldwide for authentic ayurvedic treatment and physicians. While offering consultation on all aspects of ayurvedic treatments Dr. Nair has a special interest in Panchkarma, Yoga, and Massage.

Through Ayurvedaforall, Dr. Nair offers online consultation to patients worldwide and has served hundreds of patients over the last 20 years. In addition to his Ayurvedic practice, he is the chief editor of ayurveda-amai.org, the online portal of Ayurveda Medical Association of India, and the Secretary, the state committee of Ayurveda Medical Association of India.

Dr. Nair is a regular speaker at Ayurveda-related conferences and has visited Germany to propagate Ayurveda. You can write directly to him-rajesh@ayurvedaforall.com

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