Swimming Pool Safety
The Doctors expose potential health hazards of swimming pools you need to know before taking a dip.
The sun may not be the only thing scorching your skin this summer. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra sheds light on seabather’s eruption, an extremely itchy rash that people commonly develop after swimming in the ocean. Also known as sea lice, sea poisoning and ocean itch, the rash occurs when a swimmer is stung by tiny marine life larvae, namely thimble jellyfish and sea anemone. Dr. Batra explains that the jellyfish larvae appear as little, black dots on the skin, whereas the sea anemone larvae look like tiny, pink seeds.
“Basically, they get trapped under your bathing gear, and then the external pressure causes them to release their toxin,” Dr. Batra says. “One really important thing is to take off your bathing suit before you shower. If you’ve already been stung, or you want to remove the stingers that have the toxin, usually you start with vinegar or rubbing alcohol, because that actually detoxifies the effect of the toxin on your skin,” she adds. “If you still see the little spicules, rather than rubbing or abrading, you’re much better putting shaving cream on and gently shaving them off.”
Antihistamines and hydrocortisone cream may also be used to reduce the inflammation, but the rash will usually resolve on its own within one to two weeks.
Underwater Health Remedies
The Doctors weigh in on reported remedies from under the sea.
Sink or Swim
Statistics show that nearly half of American adults are afraid of deep water in pools, and between one-third and one-half never learned how to swim. Lisa, 46, is a mother of two who falls into these categories.
“When I get into the water, I get super panicky,” she says. “I’ll get my toes wet, but that’s as far as I’ll go. My kids love the water and should something happen to them, heaven forbid, I need to be able to get in the water comfortably and help them.”
Swim instructor Emily Cohen and urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman stage a “swim-tervention” to help Lisa take the plunge and conquer her fear of water.
Deadly Freshwater Amoeba
In late August 2010, Jeremy and Julie Lewis had just returned from a weeklong vacation at their lake house with their two children, Payton and Kyle, when tragedy suddenly struck.
After attending three days of second grade, 7-year-old Kyle came down with an extreme headache accompanied by spiking fevers and frequent vomiting. “He wasn’t the same,” Julie explains. “It almost looked like he was sleeping with his eyes open.”
Jeremy and Julie took Kyle to their local children’s hospital for evaluation. Doctors initially suspected that Kyle had contracted viral or bacterial meningitis. After undergoing treatment, Kyle began to show signs of improvement; however, his condition suddenly took a turn for the worse.
Kyle began suffering seizures and hallucinations, which resulted in him being put into a medically induced coma. The following day, Kyle was diagnosed as being brain-dead, and before doctors were able to determine the official cause, Kyle passed away.
After Kyle’s death, doctors discovered that he had developed a severe brain infection triggered by a freshwater amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. Although the infection is rare, it is often deadly, and there is no definitive treatment.
The Lewis family has since created Kyle Cares, The Kyle Lewis Amoeba Awareness Foundation, in an effort to prevent similar tragedies from befalling other families.