Swimming pools can be a breeding ground for many different types of staph infections, which can cause conditions ranging from red, itchy skin to boils, eye infections and rashes. For people with weakened immune systems, a staph infection can mean the possibility of serious consequences. Prevention in pool areas is necessary, but if you enjoy swimming you should be aware of the various ways to protect yourself from this contagious condition.
Staphylococcus bacteria causes staph infections. The bacteria thrives in the nose or on the skin of both sick and healthy people, according to the Mayo Clinic. A staph infection can be worse than a minor skin irritation, however; it can cause lung, heart and urinary tract problems. Weakened immune systems invite staph infections in, causing further weakening. There are increasing numbers of strains of the staph bacteria, some resistant to antibiotics.
Swimming pool water is purified in steps, with the water first going into the water purification plant. The water then passes through a hair removal filter to eliminate all pollutants, from insects to hair and leaves. Smaller pollutants are caught when the water is passed through a sand filter, which strains out everything from skin cells to skin fats. Pool water is treated with a variety of chemicals and chlorine to decrease staph and other bacteria.
Staph infections are simple to contract and to pass on to others, and they attack so easily that even the healthiest people can get them. Cleanliness can help stop the spread of staph infections, but even that isn't enough to eradicate the bacteria. Pool areas are especially susceptible to staph bacteria because of the warm damp conditions. Locker rooms, shower stalls and pool areas can spread infections. Saunas and tanning beds also breed infection.
Staph infections can be minimized with cleanliness, hand washing, and thorough use of soap and water or sanitizers. Pool and shower areas should be kept disinfected, mats and handrails washed often. Humidity is a factor in breeding staph infections, and all moist areas in and around pools should be thoroughly and frequently cleaned. Seek medical advice at the first signs of skin irritation, sores or itching.
Although doctors prescribe antibiotics for staph infections, some strains are resistant to drugs, and these are increasingly more difficult to maintain. Ask for information about what staph and bacterial prevention is used at your health club. Wear sport slippers around the pool and shower areas. Avoid borrowing razors, soap or sponges, and cover spa benches with a towel.