If swimming is our passion, we can’t wait to put our swimsuit on and dive into the water. But we often underestimate the fact that, being a hot and humid ecosystem, the pool is also particularly suitable for the proliferation of microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses that can cause inconveniences for our health.
For this reason, proper hygiene in the facilities must always come first for the managers. In fact, by law, environmental hygienic requirements such as water quality, temperature, amount of chlorine and treatment times must be respected. However, we as swimmers can also make a contribution with simple rules of behaviour. Let’s take a look at them.
Eight simple hygiene rules to avoid infections, fungi and bacteria
As a fundamental principle, linked to common sense, it is recommended not to go to the pool if you have ongoing infections, if you have contracted an intestinal virus or if you are suffering from respiratory problems. Other good rules to follow are:
1. Always take a shower before entering the pool, especially washing your feet;
2. Use the same towels for the pool and wash them at 40-60 degrees;
3. Always wear a swimming cap, since hair attracts pests;
4. Protect wounds or skin infections with waterproof bandages;
5. Use earplugs if you are especially susceptible to ear infections
6. Use masks and goggles to protect your eyes;
7. Always wear sandals in the locker room;
8. Every time you enter the water, pass through the basins because they contain a disinfectant for your feet.
Pool and infection: the enemies with unpronounceable names
The most common infections that can be contracted in the pool are gastrointestinal diseases, caused by the involuntary ingestion of water, and fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. The culprit responsible is a microscopic fungus called Trichophyton.
The most common bacteria in pools is Cryptosporidium, a protozoan that causes diarrhoea and is resistant to chlorine. Similar effects can, however, also be caused by Escherichia coli and Shigella bacteria.
Another virus, with its suggestive name, is the “molluscum contagiosum” (Molluscipoxvirus), which takes its name from the particular shape of the skin lesion. You should also be attentive to conjunctivitis and pharyngitis caused by adenovirus and annoying plantar warts caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The preferred areas of these viruses are hands, feet, elbows and knees, because they are more easily subject to trauma and micro-cracks.
Children, wear sandals at the pool!
With the little ones, we know it is always better to take extra precautions. These include the obligation to wear flip flops, especially to ward off the “molluscum contagiosum”, which favours little swimmers up to 10-12 years old. The disease is manifested by papules with a slight depression in the centre, called “umbilication”, which can also spread into a hundred in every part of the body except the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. The infection may occur through contact or through towels, bathrobes and exercise equipment shared between several people.
It is important then, more for safety reasons than for hygiene, to have children get out of the water every 60 minutes and avoid heavy meals before the swim session from the moment that small children are more susceptible to a block of digestion.
Which of these rules do you apply for hygiene and safety at the pool?