Nothing is more pleasurable than swimming in the ocean or a pool in the peak heat of summers. However, swimming while you are suffering from ringworm is a strict no no especially if you have an active infection. Ringworm is a contagious disease and you certainly do not want to contaminate the pool and infect others. In this guide, we will study whether swimming can make ringworm worse and also if it is spread through swimming pools.
Typical ringworm symptoms include:
- Several circular rashes on groin, torso or arms. These rashes have a central circular opening with hair loss. The rash appears to move outwards from the clearing and could range from a few millimeters to few centimeters in thickness.
- Ringworm of the nails can cause the nails to become crusty and start pulling away from the nail bed.
- Athletes Foot is another type of ringworm infection that causes white scaly patches on the feet. These are itchy, burning and painful.
- On the scalp, the rash could cause hair loss, dandruff like flakes and dry crusty balding areas.
Is ringworm contagious in Chlorine?
Chlorine acts as a disinfectant and kills the spores that cause ringworm. Therefore, technically speaking, swimming in chlorinated pools should ideally make your body ringworm free. Having said that; it is advisable not to swim while you are having an active infection. This is because; some spores could still survive in the water and infect other people nearby. People with higher risks for ringworm include children-especially babies and also elderly people with compromised immunities. Therefore, it is important to get yourself treated for ringworm symptoms using oral and topical anti-fungal medicines. Once these take effect and your skin is cleared, then you can swim in pool.
How long does ringworm remain contagious?
Ringworm spores can remain dormant in your environment for long periods of time. Dermatophyte spores that cause ringworm can survive on personal items like combs and towels etc., hair and skin cells can remain active for as long as 3 weeks. Therefore, you must treat your environment in the following ways:
- Launder all your and family members’ clothing in hot water and detergent.
- Wipe down all surfaces with bleach.
- Discard combs, brushes, and towels that may be infected.
Infected individuals need to use antifungal medicines for at least 2 weeks. For severe infection, you might also need oral medicines to clear it up.
Ringworm in hot tub spa
Hot tub spa is usually safe for anyone who wishes to avoid ringworm spores. The temperature of the water in hot tubs can go up to 104 F. Ringworm spores generally die at these high temperatures. Having said that; people with ringworm infections should still refrain from using these spa facilities and tubs. One might use the towels in such facilities which could then spread and transmit the disease to other users.
Dos and Don’ts of Ringworm
- Do wash your hands often.
- Don’t share items like combs, brushes, towels etc with others
- Do wear proper footwear near public swimming pools, lockers and recreational areas with water. This is to prevent Athletes Foot and other tinea infections.
- Don’t wear wet swimming costumes for prolonged periods. Clean and dry the skin immediately and apply antifungal powder to keep the infected and healing areas dry.
- Do ensure that shower cubicles and tubs at home and public utility areas are cleaned regularly. Use household cleaners that kill fungi.
- Don’t keep close contact with infected person.
- Do ensure that salons and nail parlors clean their equipment between clients.
- Don’t stop taking the medicines even if your symptoms clear up. Continue to take the medicines for at least 3 weeks or as directed by your physician. Failure to do so could bring back the infection.
- Do not send infected children to school.
- Don’t swim while having ringworm infection. This will not worsen the symptoms but you might transmit it to other users.
- Do improve immunity by eating healthy.
Swimming might not worsen your infection but it can definitely put others at a risk. If you have ringworm rashes, it is best to refrain from swimming until it is cleared. Ringworm remains contagious for about a week after starting medicines- so avoid swimming during this period.