As the heat rises during summer, you may want to spend all your free time at the swimming pool. Whether you’re diving into the local community pool or floating peacefully in a private home pool, make sure you’re taking certain precautions to keep your skin free from irritation.
Below, we’ve listed common skin issues that may be lurking around your swimming pool this summer:
One common skin danger that lies in wait in and around swimming pools is athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that commonly develops on the feet, in between toes, and under toenails. The rash can also spread to your hands and fingers. It’s characterized by a cracked, scaly rash that itches and burns. Fungi likes to grow in warm, damp areas, like the perimeter of a swimming pool and pool deck. Athlete’s foot is contagious and can be spread via an infected person, towels and clothing.
If you are swimming in a public pool, wear flip-flops on the pool deck and in the locker room. No matter where you’re swimming, dry your feet and the spaces between your toes when you get out of the water. Over-the-counter antifungal medications are usually sufficient to clear up the infection.
Rashes are common skin irritation when you spend time in a swimming pool. The most common type of rash is caused by chlorine. Chlorine rashes frequently develop on people who are exposed to high amounts of chlorine (like swimmers), but they can appear on anyone who has a sensitivity to the chemical. Although swimming pools require adequate levels of chlorine to kill bacteria, it is still a strong chemical agent that can dehydrate and irritate the skin. Chlorine rashes can be itchy, red, swollen, and scaly or they can look like bumps and hives. Chlorine can also cause your eyes to become itchy and red. If you have an inflammatory skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, chlorine exposure can further irritate your skin.
Keep home pools maintained at the correct chlorine levels and check with your local swimming pool to make sure it’s properly chlorinated before you swim in it. Always shower with fresh water before and after swimming, to rinse off chlorine and limit your risk of irritation. If you develop a chlorine rash, it can be treated with over-the-counter corticosteroid creams.
Hot Tub Folliculitis
Hot tub folliculitis – also called pseudomonas dermatitis – can develop after you come into contact with bacteria-contaminated water. Hot tub folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles. It’s caused by the bacteria pseudomonas aeruginosa, which grows in warm, wet, humid areas. Contamination commonly occurs in swimming pools that aren’t maintained at the correct disinfectant level and hot tubs. The rash appears within hours or days after contact with the bacteria; it presents as itchy red bumps spread over the trunk.
Check with officials at your local pool to make sure it’s disinfected at the correct level before you swim in it. Care for a home pool by changing the water regularly, maintaining proper chlorine levels, and continuously filtering pool water to limit the risk of bacterial contamination. If you have a hot tub, don’t overcrowd it with too many people. Hot tub folliculitis typically resolves on its own within one to two weeks.
A Final Reminder
One of the most dangerous skin issues you can encounter at the swimming pool this summer is sunburn. If you are spending time at an outdoor pool, make sure you are applying and re-applying sunscreen every two hours. Sunburn is a physical warning sign that your skin is being damaged by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Sunburns have a direct correlation to skin cancer – having five blistering sunburns over your lifetime doubles your chances of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
At Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers, our licensed medical professionals are experts in nail, hair, and skin care. If it’s time for an annual skin check-up, or if you have an abnormal bump or growth that needs to be evaluated for skin cancer, contact our offices today to schedule an appointment.