Right behind death and taxes, you can add one more thing to the 'inevitable' list in Iowa - 'swimmer's itch'.

This week, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced the return of the condition, which is showing up once in natural lakes in north central and northwest parts of the Hawkeye State.

Eventually, the DNR says 'swimmer's itch' will be something to be on the lookout for at lakes throughout the state.

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Experts say the condition is caused by parasitic flatworms, whose eggs are transferred to the water by bird droppings. Those eggs eventually hatch and infect snails, from which the free swimming form of the flatworm larvae emerges.

The parasite from the larvae then attempts to penetrate the skin of humans, causing an allergic reaction below the skin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of infection include:

  • Tingling, burning, or itching of the skin
  • Small reddish pimples
  • Small blisters

While there is no major health risk associated with 'swimmer's itch', it can be very uncomfortable to deal with.

The welts and itching can last for up to a week and are best controlled by application of an antihistamine along with calamine lotion.

Authorities say these are the best ways to prevent 'swimmers itch':

  • Avoid swimming in areas containing aquatic plants because marshy areas often contain snails, which are the parasite’s intermediate host
  • Reduce the amount of time in the water
  • Avoid beaches that are being pounded by waves
  • Dry off quickly when getting out of the water

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