In addition to what we’ve termed “swimmer’s skin” (see Part 1), there are some risks to your skin associated with swimming pool use. Like all RWIs, using a public pool comes with much greater risk than your own private swimming pool. By learning about them, though, you as a swimming pool owner can make certain to do your part to lessen any risks. (Of course, if you don’t yet own your own swimming pool, perhaps this will help tip the scale in favor of changing that!)
Bacterial & Viral Infections: Impetigo & Molluscum
On the surface of the skin, there are two contagious infections that can easily be spread in and around swimming pools. Impetigo is a bacterial infection that manifests in crusty sores and blisters on the skin’s surface. Mollescum contagiosum, a viral infection, does not come with as unsightly or painful of symptoms, but the flesh-colored bumps easily spread to other areas of the body and can be difficult to eliminate once it’s contracted, particularly in young children. Both impetigo and molluscum can be spread through shared towels.
While technically not RWIs, these infections can much more easily thrive in a public pool setting where many people are present. As long as you keep clean towels available and ensure that each person uses a separate towel, you should be able to fairly easily avoid the spread of these issues at your own private pool.
Water-Related Skin Infections
Did you know that entering a swimming pool with an open wound — even if it’s just a minor scrape — can lead to skin infections? When any wound is exposed to water, the body is exposed to a variety of parasites, viruses, and bacteria. The resulting skin infections can surface as rashes that have bumps or reddish pimples; they can often blister, itch, and burn.
One common skin infection is caused by pool granuloma, which results from the bacteria mycobacterium marinum. Sometimes called “seabather’s eruption” or “swimmer’s itch,” this chronic skin infection begins as reddish bumps (usually on elbows, fingers, and backs of hands) that turn into purple-colored nodules that are increasingly painful. While those with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk, this painful skin infection can usually be treated by antibiotics.
Contrary to common belief, Athlete’s Foot cannot be avoided by simply wearing footwear in public places. A highly contagious fungal infection, Athlete’s Foot often thrives in the areas surrounding swimming pools. It results in cracked, itchy skin, and particularly the skin between the toes. Wearing flip flops or water shoes can help reduce your chances of exposure. As a pool owner, you can require any guests to wear footwear at all times, especially if they have a foot fungus.
Those who swim in pools that aren’t sufficiently chlorinated are at much higher risk than those who swim in pools that are properly maintained.
Continue reading with Part 3.
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