Aside from the added risk of sunburn and the relatively minor effects of chlorine on skin and hair, swimming in your own private swimming pool doesn’t come with many risks. Swimming in a public pool, however, comes with a host of risks that many pool owners are thankful to avoid. In case you need a little extra motivation to spring for your own swimming pool — or just extra reasons for you to be thankful that you already have your own pool — we thought we’d take some time to let you know about the health risks associated with public swimming pools.
According to top-rated pediatric dermatologists, even minor scrapes can lead to serious infections when open wounds are exposed to water. Whether you go swimming in a lake, the ocean, or a pool, you can risk exposure to a virus as well as various types of bacteria or parasites. Skin infections surface as rashes with bumps or reddish pimples that may burn, itch, or even blister.
Sometimes referred to as “swimmer’s itch” or “seabather’s eruption,” a common skin infection perpetuated through swimming pools is swimming pool granuloma. Caused by the bacteria mycobacterium marinum, this chronic skin infection starts as reddish bumps that grow into more painful, purplish nodules. Typically affecting fingers, elbows, and the backs of the hands, this infection can be treated by antibiotics but is especially dangerous for those with compromised immune systems.
A swimming pool typically poses a risk for skin infections only when it’s insufficiently chlorinated, so if you have your own swimming pool, you can avoid these kinds of problems by carefully monitoring your chemical levels.
Many people think about wearing footwear in public places, including pool locker rooms, in order to avoid exposure to athlete’s foot. However, this fungal infection, which is known to be highly contagious, can thrive in the area surrounding a swimming pool. Athlete’s Foot results in skin that’s cracked and itchy and can especially affect the skin between toes. In order to avoid exposure, make sure to wear flip flops or water shoes around any pool. If you have your own pool, make sure to ask any guests who have such contagious conditions to keep footwear on at all times, in order to avoid exposing others to the fungus.
Impetigo & Molluscum
If you’ve never seen or experienced the crusty blisters and sores that result from Impetigo, be thankful! This bacterial infection is quite contagious, often being transmitted by shared towels. A viral infection, molluscum contagiosum, can also be shared that way. (Although the symptoms of molluscum are not as significant, the flesh-colored bumps tend to spread; this infection can be difficult to eliminate once it is contracted.) Keeping Impetigo and Molluscum at bay can be easy, as long as you keep clean towels on hand and make sure each child uses only the one assigned to him or her.
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