Taking a dip in a pool, ocean or lake is refreshing in the heat of summer, but be cautious - they can also be breeding grounds for many water related illnesses. It’s not uncommon to contract conditions like skin rashes, gastrointestinal issues, and What’s Going Around this week, swimming pool conjunctivitis (a.k.a. pink eye).
You may think that pink eye is most often a problem when kids are in school, but AdventHealth Centra Care physicians see just as many cases of conjunctivitis during the summer months. The reason? Chemical irritants like chlorine in swimming pools, and infection from bacteria or virus in oceans and lakes, or poorly chlorinated pools.
Causes of pink eye:
Viruses which cause diseases like mumps, measles, etc.
Bacterias like Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus, and pneumoniae.
Fungi and organic matter like dirt or plants.
Allergens and allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, and hay fever.
Irritants like smoke, dust, wind, bright ultraviolet light, and chlorine.
Eye conditions like Blepharitis, Entropion, and chronic dacryocystitis.
Tips for avoiding pink eye:
- Whether the pool is in your community, at a hotel or in your friend’s backyard, it’s difficult to know the water quality. To avoid getting pink eye, wear eye protection like swim goggles. This will also limit exposure to irritants from an over chlorinated pool.
- Don’t overlook plastic or inflatable kiddie pools. Don’t let the water sit overnight. Be sure to change the water daily.
- Before stepping foot in oceans or lakes, be aware if there are any postings/warnings from local officials on the quality of the water.
If you suspect you have pink eye, wash your hands often, don’t touch your eyes, don't go swimming and see a doctor. If bacteria caused the pink eye, prescription eye drops may be needed to heal the infection.