We’ve teamed up with the expert doctors at International Medical Clinic (IMC) to get you the lowdown on swimming pool safety, mama!
Swimming is one of the most popular activities in a tropical country like Singapore, especially among kids. But there are inherent risks to recreational water use including injury, skin conditions/infections, the spread of infectious diseases, and even drowning! We spoke with Dr. June Tan Sheren at International Medical Clinic (IMC), which specialises in family, paediatric and travel medicine, to get the lowdown on what’s out there – and what you can do to protect yourself and your kids, mama!
Gastrointestinal illnesses can occur after ingestion of contaminated water. They are usually viral in nature and self-limiting. However, bacterial infections caused by Salmonella, Giardia, Shigella, and E. coli, may require antibiotics for treatment. Children, pregnant women and immuno-compromised individuals can develop more serious complications if the bacterial infections are left untreated.
Ear conditions: Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is an infection of the ear’s outer canal. It causes itching and pain and sometimes discharge. Swimmer’s ear usually occurs within a few days of exposure to contaminated water or placing contaminated objects in the ear. Treatment is with antibiotic eardrops or oral antibiotics in more resistant cases. It can sometimes be avoided by applying alcohol-based eardrops after swimming, which helps to the dry the ears.
Excessive sun exposure is a health hazard due to the effect of ultraviolet radiation on the skin. Sunburn can range from mild redness to blistering. Besides sunburn, ultraviolet radiation can also cause pre-mature ageing and skin cancers, so block up, mamas! Babies, children and the extremely fair-skinned are particularly vulnerable.
Remember that certain medications can cause increased photosensitivity as well, such as doxycycline used for malaria prophylaxis and acne. Avoid the midday sun and wear waterproof sunscreen with an SPF value of 30 or above. Children should wear rash vests and shorts to minimize skin sun exposure, and avoid swimming in full sun between the hours of 10am and 2pm. Sunscreen should be re-applied after 2 hours, and always after swimming.
Hot tub rash is an infection of the skin (dermatitis) or of the hair follicles in the skin (folliculitis) acquired from contact with contaminated water. The infection occurs most commonly after swimming in hot tubs or spas. It is often worse under the areas of skin covered by a swimsuit, since the swimsuit can keep the contaminated water in contact with the skin for a longer period of time. Most cases of hot tub rash are caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Hot tub rash usually begins with itchy skin or itchy bumps on the skin, which progress to form tender red nodules that may contain pus. It generally resolves on its own within a few days and medical treatment is rarely necessary. Frequent testing of water in pools and hot tubs and adequate control of disinfectant levels and pH are critical steps in preventing hot tub rash.
Eczema is the most common skin condition affecting children. It can be aggravated by swimming, because of irritation from the chlorinated water or other contaminants. Treatment is usually via moisturisers and topical steroids.
Ensure children are supervised at all times, especially when visiting friends, as many swimming pools at condos are not fenced and are easily accessed by toddlers.
Enroll your child in swim class at an early age, to familiarise them with pool safety.
Many emergencies that we see involve poolside accidents and injuries, including lacerations requiring sutures, abrasions, head injuries and fractures. Please do not allow your children to run around the tiled pool surrounds, and use plastic glasses for drinks.
Ways to protect yourself:
- Ensure clean and clear pool water with no offensive odour
- Refrain from swimming when having diarrhoea
- Avoid swallowing pool water
- Shower before and after swimming and wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers
- Take children on regular bathroom breaks
- Do not change diapers at poolside and thoroughly clean diaper changing area
- Protect against sunburn with an effective waterproof sunscreen and re-apply regularly
- Wear a rash vest, shorts, hats and sunglasses at the pool
These tips should keep you cool and safe by the pool, mama, but you can always visit IMC and their friendly team of international doctors at one of two convenient locations with your questions and problems!
International Medical Clinic (IMC)
Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Boulevard, #14-06, Singapore 248649, Tel: (+65) 6733 4440
293 Holland Road, #02-04 Jelita Shopping Centre, Singapore 278628, Tel: (+65) 6465 4440, www.imc-healthcare.com
Brought to you in partnership with International Medical Clinic