Chlorine and yeast infections

Can I Go Swimming With a Yeast Infection?

Do you need an answer to the question, “Can I go swimming with a yeast infection?” then read on…

Many people end up dealing with a yeast infection at some point in their life. The most common type is the vaginal infection, and many women end up having this problem at some point during adulthood.

While these infections are rarely a serious health issues, they can be very uncomfortable and frustrating. One of the most common questions that women have when they have a yeast infection is, if they can swim with one. So, let’s take a look at the answer to this question.

The short answer is, “Yes.” You can go swimming with no worries. While there are some considerations to keep in mind, swimming is not something that you have to take off of your calendar. First of all, it is important to understand that being in chlorinated water can actually lead to an infection, since the chlorine can disrupt the balance in the vaginal area, but this does not mean that swimming is off limits to you.

There are some considerations you must make. You see, if you do decide to go swimming while you have a yeast infection, there are several things to keep in mind. When you go swimming, it’s important that you get out of your bathing suit as soon as possible after you are done swimming.

The bathing suit when it is wet can end up promoting the growth of yeast, so you need to get out of it right away. Also, make sure that you dry off really well and especially make sure that the vulva area is completely dry. This way you won’t end up with an infection that gets worse because of the excess moisture.

When people ask, can I go swimming with an infection, often they want to know if they are going to contaminate the pool. The answer is no. You see, there are plenty of chemicals in pools that will make sure that you cannot transfer your problem to someone else. So, it is safe to go in the water without worrying that you’ll pass your infection on to someone that you are swimming with.

So, yes, you can go in the water, although you should be very careful about taking care of yourself when you’re done. Get the bathing suit off quickly, dry off good, and you should be just fine when you decide to get in the pool.

Q. If someone with a fungal infection swims in a pool, Will they spread to others?

Hello,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

I understand your concern.

Swimming is considered as a safe recreational activity. But that is not totally true.

Chlorination of water is known to kill most of the microorganisms (which include bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites). But there are several factors to be considered like:

1) Type of microorganism (some organisms may be resistant to chlorination).

2) Adequate chlorination (if sufficient chlorine is not added, there could be a chance of acquiring infection).

3) Duration of chlorination (when a microorganism is introduced into the water, the chlorine may not kill the organism right away, some resistant organisms may survive longer in the water).

4) Microbial load (the stage of infection of the infected person is also important, during the acute acute/highly infective stage, chances of spreading infection may be higher).

  • It is very important for people with skin infections or diarrhoea to stay away from the pools for a period of 14days after recovery.
  • This can only be monitored by the people entering the pool themselves.
  • If you are swimming regularly, try not to swallow water while swimming.
  • Take a shower immediately after swimming.
  • If you develop any symptoms like rashes over the skin or diarrhoea, consult your doctor immediately.
  • Request the pool authorities to put up a notice requesting members to stay away from the pool if they are sick.
  • If you have kids who are swimming, follow the same advice, and change their nappies immediately after swimming.
  • Also take your kids to the toilet every 30 minutes during their swimming session, to prevent them from excreting in the pool.

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Could Chlorine Be Prolonging Your Mold/Fungal Issues? Simple Tips on Limiting Chlorine Exposure

Summer is coming. We have started to hit warmer temperatures for days at a time, and the evenings aren’t getting as cold as they used to. It’s all very exciting, especially when your body craves the sunshine, warmth and boost of Vitamin D, like mine does. Another thing that summer brings for my family is lots of swimming. I love swimming and my kiddos especially love swimming, but since we had our mold exposure, pool swimming brings a new set of worries with it that I never even knew to think about before.

The culprit for those worries: chlorine. Let’s face it; most pools contain chlorine these days. Just as chlorine is excellent at killing bacteria, viruses and microorganisms, it is terrible for those of us susceptible to fungal issues, because it poses a chemical threat to recovering from our mold exposure, and it promotes Candida or fungal growth inside the body. To better explain, l will first talk about chlorine and what kind of chemical threat it can pose to your body:

Chlorine is a naturally-occurring chemical element and is one of the most abundant on Earth. It is the ninth largest chemical produced in the U.S. by volume and is known as the “workhorse chemical.” In the U.S., it is used as a chemical disinfectant in municipal water supplies, to manufacture everything from computer chips to crop-protection chemicals, and as a household cleaning aid in countless products. Chlorine’s highly reactive nature makes it extremely useful, but also, potentially dangerous. In other words, it quite literally reacts with anything it touches, be that bacteria to kill it, or your skin and lungs to irritate and burn them.

Chlorine is classified as a hazardous chemical and a “choking agent” when in gas form. Thus, exposure to chlorine gas can be fatal, which is why it was first used as a chemical weapon during WW I. In addition, there are many health issues related to chlorine exposure in ALL forms. Research has even shown that long-term chlorine exposure produces free-radicals in the body. Free radicals are carcinogenic and cause extensive damage to our cells—even altering the mitochondria of DNA. According to the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality, the cancer instance for those who regularly drink chlorinated water is 93% higher, than for those who do not.

These days, chlorine exposure is probably greater than what you would expect. Just think, from chemical disinfecting products, to municipal water supplies, to fruits and veggies that were sprayed with it as a pesticide, to our public and private pools to keep bacteria and virus levels safe for swimming. It is a hidden chemical onslaught that most of us don’t always consider. But, when your health has been severely compromised for any reason, like mine has, you start to think about the risk that accumulates with every chemical exposure, and how to minimize further damage to your body.

Now, I’m going to switch gears and give my Cliff’s Notes version of Candida overgrowth and why that is a bad thing, and then why the addition of chlorine (whether in your drinking water or in the water you are showering or swimming in) can make it worse:

In our digestive tracts, we have thousands of different microbial residents. Most of those microbes are the “good” kind of bacteria. They help to breakdown the food we eat, defend our bodies against “bad” bacterial invaders, aid in immune function, help to regulate detoxification, and even control our moods—really that is just scratching the surface, but this is the Cliff’s Notes version. When those microbes are killed off by antibiotics (in pharmaceutical medications or in the foods we eat), an overly acid stomach or diet, or by chlorine absorbed through the skin or ingested, they can be taken over by Candida/yeast. You see, we all have Candida in our mouths and intestines, to aid our bodies in digestion and nutrient absorption. But, when their levels become too large for the body to keep in check, the Candida can penetrate the intestinal wall and create “leaky gut” symptoms by releasing the yeast’s toxic byproducts into the bloodstream. Yikes.

Candida can easily flourish when the immune system is weak from the body battling sickness, infection, or outside invaders, like mold or chemical toxins. Since inhaling mold also brings fungus into the body through the nose and mouth, exposure to it can make Candida even worse. Julia Koehler, a Harvard University fellow in infectious disease, actually found that Candida overgrowth is the predominant infection behind ALL human disease. According to Koehler, Candida is particularly dangerous because of its ability to change forms and to adapt. So, where does chlorine come into all of this?

When we ingest things like chlorine in our drinking water, or swim in a chlorinated pool, we are further disrupting our healthy body ecology that fends off the Candida. If all of our protective barriers, both internally and externally are killed off, Candida/yeast becomes the pervading organism. This is not good or healthy.

So, with summer practically here, you are probably wondering how in the world you are going to replace or avoid all chlorine, right? Good news! I have some easy tips and tools to help guide the way for you. I also want those who require or have family members who require a “mold free lifestyle” to know that I understand the unbelievable expense it can bring with it. Because of that, I have tried to offer solutions that are not overly daunting or financially draining. Don’t stop reading! I promise solutions are easier than you think.

Tips and Tools for Limiting Chlorine Exposure:

(Remember, I am NOT a doctor. All of the tips and opinions expressed below come from my research, experience and interaction with professionals in the medical and holistic medicine fields. These opinions and comments are not meant to diagnose or treat a disease, but are offered as insights and helpful information for my readers.)

  • Install a whole-house water filtration system in your home. This type of system filters both the water you will cook with and consume and the water you bathe and wash your hands with. Not all filtration systems are created equal, so making sure the system you choose filters chlorine out is very important. Charcoal filters are particularly good at chlorine removal. Whole-house filtration can cost anywhere from $400-$4,000.If this is not financially feasible, install individual filters on your tub/showerhead, in your refrigerator and on your kitchen sink. If there is another sink where you frequently wash your hands, consider installing one there as well. Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you are filtering your drinking water that you are safe. Showering with non-filtered water is actually one of the worst culprits for chlorine exposure. Why? The shower aerates the water in a closed space, so not only are you getting the chlorine exposure through your skin, but you are also inhaling the chlorine gases. There are so many filters out there, in every price point, so there are no excuses.

  • Ask for bottled water at restaurants, or carry filtered water with you.

    Water coolers are another great choice for your home or office. They give you easy access to spring or purified drinking water. It is also sometimes a more cost-effective option than purchasing bottled water all of the time.

    Also, make sure that you are not pouring your filtered water over ice, because this defeats the purpose, as the ice at most restaurants is usually not from a filtered source. Also, remember that if a restaurant is offering iced tea, or sodas from a machine, those drinks contain unfiltered water and should be avoided. Your best option is always something in a bottle over anything from the tap.

  • While it does not neutralize chlorine in water, I think it is worth noting that grapefruit seed extract has been tested and proven effective at treating and killing microbes in municipal water supplies better than chlorine.

    CitriDrops are all-natural, and safe.

    When I don’t have access to filtered water and cannot control my water supply, I carry CitriDrops Dietary Supplement in my purse. I add about 10 drops to a glass of water and swirl it around before drinking it. Not only will the CitriDrops work to eliminate bacteria and microbes, but it will also help to combat any Candida forming in your gut as a result of the chlorine exposure. This is especially pertinent to mold-allergic or sensitive people.

  • Eat a diet rich in healthy fats. Of course, I’m not talking potato chips and ice cream here, but avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, wild-caught fish and organic meats. Fat that penetrates your cells protects the body from oxidative damage, and heightens antioxidant levels. These healthy fats also aid in weight management. So, even though it is swimsuit season, maintaining a balanced diet that includes fat is better for your cellular protection.
  • Do not buy or use chlorinated bleach on your laundry. Also, read the labels of your laundry and cleaning supplies to make sure that they do not contain chlorine or other harmful chemicals. Anything that touches your skin can get into your bloodstream, so don’t think that just because you are not drinking or eating it that it cannot affect you.
  • Avoid public pools and hot tubs as these contain particularly high amounts of chlorine. If you are at the beach or on vacation, consider swimming in freshwater or salt water instead. You can usually call hotels to find out what types of systems they have installed to clean the pools. Some hotels these days use Ozone or salt water systems instead of chlorine. Call ahead and find out. If you are mold sensitive, you REALLY need to think about this, because the toxicity of chlorine absorbed in lungs or skin can negatively affect you worse than the average person.
  • If purchasing a home or installing an indoor or outdoor pool, choose outdoor, if possible. The off-gassing of chlorine in an indoor, enclosed setting has been proven to be 100%-200% worse, in terms of toxicology tests on its impact on the human body than outdoor pools.
  • Install an alternative-to-chlorine system on your home pool, instead of using chlorine, whenever possible.

    This pool is on a salt water system. It is not perfect, but uses much, much less chlorine than an all-chlorine system. Salt water has its own therapeutic, disinfecting and healing properties, which make it a nice choice for a home pool.

    The systems I have researched and recommend are Grander Water Revitalization systems (with a Grander system, you keep the chlorine, but the water is revitalized through the unit and all of the negative effects of the chlorine disappear–hard to find in the U.S., though), Ozone (although, sometimes, small amounts of chlorine are still needed with ozone systems, but the amount is significantly reduced, and not as irritating to your skin or eyes), and copper/silver ionization. Our doctor who treated us for the mold exposure cautioned us with copper-silver ionization systems. His take is this:

    “I would not use copper-silver, as they are heavy metals, and though you must have Cu to do biochemical reactions, it is toxic in larger amounts and prevents healing. If you get Cu in a wound it will not heal and silver is also toxic in larger amounts. The chlorine in salt pools is not detectable and is in different forms. The healing properties of salt and salt as a disinfectant are great. I love our salt water pool. You can open your eyes in our pool without burning, but not in a copper-silver pool. Just my 2 cents worth, having experienced both. Copper-silver systems are more difficult to regulate, sometime chlorine is still needed.”

    Salt water pools seem to be his preference. We are in the process of converting our pool to salt water as I write this. (If you would like specific information, just send me a comment in the comments section.)

  • Take Vitamin C and/or use a lotion with Vitamin C to create a protective antioxidant barrier between your skin and the chlorine. Vitamin C has been proven to effectively neutralize chlorine, both inside the body and out. As a matter of fact, in 2005, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service studied the effects of the two forms of vitamin C (ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate) on chlorine. Both worked well. Just a single gram of vitamin C neutralizes the chlorine from 100 gallons of water that has been chlorinated at a concentration of 1 P.P.M, which is the standard concentration for drinking water in the United States. For reference, the average bathtub has a capacity of 60 gallons at the point of overflowing. Since 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid is about 5 grams, less than a quarter of a teaspoon would be needed to neutralize the chlorine within the hypothetical bathtub. Thus, mixing a 1/3 teaspoon of powdered Vitamin C to your sunscreen, or adding a teaspoon of liquid or powdered Vitamin C to my oil-based lotion recipe that I just posted (include link), and then applying it to your body prior to swimming, would reduce the ill effects of the chlorine on your body tremendously. Taking a daily Vitamin C supplement will also aid your body in combating the harm done by any chlorine in your diet or absorbed through the skin. Since Vitamin C does not stay in the body all day, it is recommended to take it multiple times per day, especially on days when you swim. This is not to say that avoidance isn’t the best policy, but just gives you a healthier alternative. I may even come up with a specific DeChlorinating, Vitamin C Lotion, if there is enough interest. Let me know.
  • Rinse off immediately after swimming in a chlorinated pool, using soap. The sooner you get the chlorine off of your skin, the better. Soap must be used to ensure that the chlorine is completely removed. Even better than normal soap, would be to use a Vitamin C-rich soap, like Trader Joe’s Vitamin C Cleansing Gel. I do caution you, though, as I mentioned before that chlorine is extremely active. It gets on something and immediately starts doing damage. Any washing or rinsing post-exposure, only removes the top, superficial layer from your skin. Monitoring your antioxidant levels and aiding the body with vitamin C should be done in conjunction with this.
  • Be careful about sitting or sun bathing by chlorinated pools as well. Inhaling chlorine can be just as damaging and detrimental as ingesting or getting it on your skin, as I outlined above.

This is an important topic. I’m still learning a lot about it myself and would love to hear from you. Please write with any questions, stories, or insights.

Be well!

Why doesn’t submersion in water kill fungi?

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that frequent visits to the pool help with fungal infections. Surely, someone from the scientific community must have noticed too, right? So why don’t we frequently hear people suggesting to go swimming to treat these infections?

Because scientific results suggest the opposite!

Incidence of occult athlete’s foot in swimmers

In our results, 22 swimmers had positive cultures (15%), 8 of these cases had no lesions (36%). They included 7 infections with Trichophyton mentagrophytes (87.5%) and one with T. rubrum (12.5%). We observed one case with a dual infection. Only one sample from the inanimate environment was positive. This study showed a significant incidence of occult athlete’s foot in swimmers. To control this endemic problem, adequate preventive measures must be taken.

Foot Infections in Swimming Baths

A 10% random sample of all bathers at a public swimming bath were examined for tinea pedis and verruca.

The overall incidence of tinea pedis was 8·5% and of verruca 4·8%. The incidence of tinea pedis in 205 male adults was 21·5%, in 288 boys 6·3%, in 60 adult females 3·3%, and in 220 girls 0·9%. The incidence of verruca in juveniles ranged from 4·2% in boys to 10·5% in girls.

It was clear that both infections spread within the baths, and since a relatively small proportion of users admitted to taking precautions to avoid contracting or developing infections it seems advisable that more publicity about recommendations on foot care should be provided.

Onychomycosis in Icelandic Swimmers

The prevalence of culture-positive onychomycosis was 15% in women and 26% in men. Our results suggest that onychomycosis of the toenails is at least 3 times more prevalent in swimmers than in the rest of the population.

Does this mean that not only is going to the swimming pool not a cure of fungal infections, but it is actually the cause? Well, maybe not. While the articles show that there is a larger incidence of fungal infections among swimmers, they only show correlation, not causality. People who partake in sports activities have a bigger chance of having these infections than the general public. These are also the people who are more likely to go swimming.

To settle the matter for good, we need an article named “Prevalence of fungal infections among occasionally swimming couch potatoes” 🙂

Jon J. Calomiris, Water Research Program Manager at the United States Air Force Research Laboratory, and Keith A. Christman, Director, Disinfection and Government Relations at the Chlorine Chemistry Council, collaborated on this answer.

While quenching your thirst with a glass of tap water, enjoying your morning shower or swimming in a pool, you most likely are, at one time or another, aware of the chlorine used to disinfect your municipal water. Although its distinctive aroma may be unpleasant to some, it is an indication that your water supply is being adequately treated to stave off harmful or deadly microorganisms.

Chlorine effectively kills a large variety of microbial waterborne pathogens, including those that can cause typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera and Legionnaires’ disease. Chlorine is widely credited with virtually eliminating outbreaks of waterborne disease in the United States and other developed countries. And Life magazine recently cited the filtration of drinking water and use of chlorine as “probably the most significant public health advance of the millennium.”

Image: Chlorine Chemistry Council
TYPHOID FEVER has been virtually eliminated through the chlorination of water.

Health officials began treating drinking water with chlorine in 1908. Previously, typhoid fever had killed about 25 out of 100,000 people in the U.S. annually, a death rate close to that now associated with automobile accidents. Today, typhoid fever has been virtually eliminated.

Chlorine is currently employed by over 98 percent of all U.S. water utilities that disinfect drinking water. It has proved to be a powerful barrier in restricting pathogens from reaching your faucet and making you ill. Chlorine and chlorine-based compounds are the only disinfectants that can efficiently kill microorganisms during water treatment, and maintain the quality of the water as it flows from the treatment plant to the consumer’s tap.

Although chlorine’s value has been known for nearly a century, the mechanism by which the compound kills or inactivates microorganisms is not clearly understood. The bulk of chlorine disinfection research, conducted from the 1940s to the 1970s, focused on bacteria. Though limited, this work gave rise to some speculation. Researchers postulated that chlorine, which exists in water as hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid, reacts with biomolecules in the bacterial cell to destroy the organism.

Further work led to the so-called “multiple hit” theory of chlorine inactivation. It asserted that bacterial death probably results from chlorine attacking a variety of bacterial molecules or targets, including enzymes, nucleic acids and membrane lipids.

Early research efforts focused on how chlorine attacks enzymes. The disinfectant was able to inactivate extracts of various enzymes because it is highly reactive with sulfur-containing and aromatic amino acids. But it had no effect on cytoplasmic enzymes, suggesting that it might not reach biomolecules within the bacterium. Thus, researchers redirected their attention to the molecules on the surface of the bacterial cell.

A new hypothesis proclaimed that perhaps chlorine acted by attacking the bacterial cell wall. Proponents of this idea suggested that chlorine exposure might destroy the cell wall–by altering it physically, chemically and biochemically–and so terminate the cell’s vital functions, killing the microorganism.

A possible sequence of events during chlorination would be:

  • disruption of the cell wall barrier by reactions of chlorine with target sites on the cell surface
  • release of vital cellular constituents from the cell
  • termination of membrane-associated functions
  • termination of cellular functions within the cell.

    During the course of these events, the microorganism dies, meaning it is no longer capable of growing or causing disease.

    Image: Chlorine Chemistry Council
    E. COLI. are commonly found in contaminated water. They are destroyed by chlorination.

    Although chlorine’s disruption of the cell wall appears to be the fundamental event leading to the demise of the bacterium, the mechanism by which chlorine disrupts the cell wall had not been determined. Recently, though, scientists have studied how chlorine affects the cell walls of “gram-negative” bacteria, organisms including those causing typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera and Legionnaires’ disease

    By definition, gram-negative bacteria possess cell walls that consist of an outer membrane and a cytoplasmic membrane. The outer membrane, being the outermost region that has direct contact with the organism’s environment, functions as a protective barrier. The investigation revealed that, for each bacterial species, chlorination significantly increased the permeability of the outer membrane, leaving the bacterium vulnerable to destruction.

    How chlorine inactivates other types of bacteria has not been determined. Scientists do not understand much about spore-forming bacteria or gram-positive bacteria, which have no outer membrane. Although these bacterial types are, in general, more chlorine tolerant than gram-negative bacteria, most waterborne species do not normally pose a health threat.

    Certain waterborne viruses, such as enteric viruses and hepatitis A, may be even more tolerant to chlorine disinfection than some bacterial species. But the means by which chlorine inactivates viruses is not well understood.

    In recent years, the parasitic protozoans Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia have emerged as formidable waterborne pathogens. These protozoa are remarkably resistant to chlorine disinfection and consequently, present a great challenge to the water industry and health officials, who are responsible for providing safe drinking water to the public. Currently, filtration is the most effective process for removing these protozoa from drinking water. To fully protect the public, however, effective disinfection methods must be developed.

    If chlorine kills so many species of microorganisms, why doesn’t it harm humans? Fortunately, when we ingest chlorinated drinking water, food in our stomachs and the materials normally present in the intestinal tract quickly neutralize the chlorine. So chlorine concentrations along cell membranes in the gastrointestinal tract are probably too low to cause injury.

    This example may simply be another case of “dose makes the poison.” Like medicine, a little bit of chlorine, such as the levels used in drinking water or swimming pools, kills relatively simple, but potentially deadly, microorganisms. At much higher concentrations, chlorine could damage the cells in our body.

    Water utilities carefully regulate chlorine levels so that they effectively kill disease-causing microorganisms but do not harm people. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the help of water utilities, environmentalists and chlorine manufacturers, recently proposed a regulation that would reduce the chlorine concentrations in drinking water to assure that the disinfectant does not approach unsafe levels.

    Some additional details are provided by Leslie E. Dorworth of the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program.

    Water has been treated for many centuries. First, it was boiled and filtered to improve the taste and appearance. Chlorine, one of 90 naturally occurring elements, was first used as a disinfectant in Europe and North America in the early part of this century. Since then, widespread epidemics of the most severe forms of diseases have become exceedingly rare in the U.S.

    In the U.S., Congress enacted the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974. The law was amended in 1986 to expand the EPA’s role in protecting public health from contaminated drinking water. The amendments require the agency to control specific disease-causing organisms and indicators that may be present in drinking water and to require public water suppliers to disinfect water. Amendments enacted in 1996 make it clear that any federal agency is subject to penalties for past violations of the Act.

    Chlorine can combine with natural organic compounds in raw water to create some undesirable by-products; on its own, however, it does not usually pose a problem to public health. The legislation regulates the by-products. One concern with chlorinated water is its tendency to form trihalomethanes (THMs), carcinogenic by-products of the disinfection process. In 1979, the EPA adopted the THM regulation, limiting their allowable level in drinking water supplies. In 1992, the EPA established federally enforceable standards that now cover 83 contaminants, including THMs, that may be found in drinking water.

    In order to address the EPA regulations–in this case THMs specifically–water treatment plants changed operations to minimize THM production without compromising public health. Some of the methods used include reducing the amount of chlorine; changing the timing during disinfection so that chlorine is added in either sooner or later during process; changing the type of chlorine used; and removing the organic material that reacts with the chlorine to produce THMs.

    Although chlorine is not the only disinfecting agent available to the water supply industry, it is the most widely used disinfectant in North America. Another form of disinfection is ozonation. Both chlorination and ozonation kill organisms by oxidation. Ultraviolet treatment, another method, uses UV radiation to kill microorganisms.

    For chlorine to be effective against microorganisms, it must be present in a sufficient quantity, and it must have a sufficient amount of time to react. This reaction time is called the contact time. For most water systems, the best contact time is usually 30 minutes. To ensure continued protection against harmful organisms, a certain amount of chlorine must remain in the water after treatment. The remaining chlorine is known as a residual chlorine. It is this tiny amount that you sometimes smell in your tap water.

    Most of us never think about getting sick or even dying from drinking water. But in many developing countries around the world, diseases associated with dirty water kill more than 5 million people each year, according to the World Health Organization. Without proper disinfection procedures, outbreaks in the U.S. would significantly increase.

    As researchers and officials have learned more about water disinfection, the use of chlorine in treatment plants has been reduced. This reduction has been balanced by providing microbial protection and reducing the by-products created through the treatment process.

  • Why Is My Vagina Itchy After Swimming? How Chlorine Can Affect Your pH Balance

    We at Bustle love giving you tips for how to tap into your sexual potential and troubleshoot when things aren’t going your way in the bedroom. But what about finding solutions to those stressful health situations that inevitably crop up when you’re the proud owner of a vagina? Emma Kaywin, a Brooklyn-based sexual health writer and activist, is here to calm your nerves and answer your questions. This week’s topic: why your vagina can get itchy after swimming in the pool.

    Q: I’m a total water baby, I love love LOVE swimming! And since I don’t live by the beach, that means pools all summer long. But sometimes I feel like it’s messing with my vaginal balance — I start feeling itchy all the time down there. Is it the chlorine, or just being in water all day?

    A: First, the good news: Your vagina is pretty good at taking care of and cleaning itself. This feel-good reproductive canal is home to a huge number of microorganisms that work with your anatomy in complex ways to make sure your vagina stays at its optimal 4 – 5 pH range.

    However, there are definitely things in the world that can knock this balance out of whack, allowing unwelcome bacteria to move in and get you feeling, well, not great. And unfortunately for those of us who love reliving The Little Mermaid in landlocked areas, the chemical used to clean pools is one of those balance-busters. Let’s explore how.

    How Chlorine Can Mess With Your Vagina

    Most swimming pools are cleaned through the chemical chlorine, which kills bacteria. This is generally a good thing, because otherwise the warm or hot water (depending on whether we’re discussing a pool or hot tub) ends up being a breeding ground for all manner of bacteria you definitely don’t want all up in you.

    So what’s the bad news? Not all bacteria is bad! Remember those microorganisms whose job it is to keep your pussy at optimal pH levels? Some are bacteria, and they need to stay alive to do their job. When chlorine cuts too deep and kills off some of the good bacteria that are supposed to be helping your vagina stay healthy, it’s no surprise that you will start to feel out of balance.

    Here are some of the possible reactions your netherparts can have to chlorine.

    Swimming Side-Effect #1: Yeast Infection

    Yeast infection happens when your vagina gets too pH basic, which allows the fungus candida to become overgrown. It makes your discharge look like cottage cheese and will also make your vaginal lips and interior itch a lot.

    How To Get Rid Of It: If this sounds like you, not to worry. There are a bunch of over-the-counter remedies, like creams, and home remedies including yogurt and garlic, apple cider vinegar, or boric acid suppositories. You can also ask your doctor for a one-day antibiotic. It’s also a good idea to get out of that wet bathing suit as soon as you’re done swimming, because yeast likes moist warm places.

    Swimming Side-Effect #2: Bacterial Vaginosis

    Having a pussy that is too pH basic as a result of pool chlorine can also result in bacterial vaginosis. This bacterial infection not only makes your vagina itchy, but also includes thin, gray-colored vaginal discharge that smells fishy.

    How To Get Rid Of It: Luckily, bacterial vaginosis (or BV, as it’s called for short) often goes away on its own. If it doesn’t, medications can help get you rebalanced.

    Swimming Side-Effect #3: Vaginitis

    Vaginitis is what the health world calls a general vaginal inflammation. This can be caused by anything (from infections to allergies) that disrupts the delicate pH balance. For some vagina-owners, the chlorine in pools and hot tubs can create an allergic response that can turn into allergic vaginitis. While not everyone with vaginitis has symptoms, allergic vaginitis is generally accompanied by a swollen or itchy vagina and increased amount of discharge.

    How To Get Rid Of It: Taking care of this situation generally means stopping whatever it was you were doing that vagina is allergic to — which in this case would mean holding off on the swim parties for a bit. You can also get a topical steroid from your doctor to bring down the swelling, and soaking in a warm bath with four to five tablespoons of baking soda will also help sooth the itchiness.

    Swimming Side-Effect #4: Vulvitis

    Vulvitis is basically vaginitis for your vulva, aka the external part of your fun mound. Your vulva skin is super sensitive and is easily irritated. The chlorine from a swimming pool or hot tub can result in vulvitis, as can wearing your wet bathing suit for a while. If this happens to you, your vulva will be itchy and burny, you’ll experience increased vaginal discharge, and you can get small cracks or white scaly patches on your vulva skin.

    How To Get Rid Of It: If this is what’s going on with you, hold off on swimming for a while and make sure you’re rocking only loose cotton panties, to let your parts breathe! You can also get an ointment from your doctor to bring down the itching and swelling.

    The Bottom Line

    Chlorine is one of those chemicals that works to protect our health, but at something of a discomfort cost. If you are experiencing routine less-than-pleasant effects of chlorine unbalancing, you may be faced with the personal decision about whether you want to deal with the symptoms as they arise, or just steer clear of the pool altogether. It’s a cost-benefit analysis you have to make on your own.

    Images: Getty; Giphy

    Sweet, sweet summertime: Lazy days by the pool, bright sunshine, and sometimes say-it-ain’t-so yeast infections. Unfortunately, warmer temps can bring with them an increased risk of this pesky issue, says Natasha Johnson, M.D., a gynecologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Some women who are at risk or prone to yeast infections notice that summer can be a time of flaring,” she says. It has to do with the heat: Moisture gets trapped and yeast can overgrow, she says. (Lovely.) But you don’t have to avoid the pool like the plague or fear days spent in bikinis. Just make these simple swaps, and you’ll be itch-free all the way to fall.

    1. Seriously: Ditch the Wet Clothes
    So you finish a long run, and instead of slipping into fresh new (ahem, dry) clothes, you tackle a list of errands. We’ve all been there. And hey, we’re all for the athleisure look. But walking around in damp clothes means a moist environment that’s ripe for yeast to grow, says Johnson. So pack a clean pair of shorts or an extra bathing suit if you’re spending the day at the beach. Even if you don’t have time to shower, dry bottoms help keep yeast at bay, she says.

    via GIPHY

    2. Say Yes to Cotton
    Lingerie is tempting, but it’s common for the skin around your vag to grow irritated by sexy materials like lace or mesh. That’s why Johnson suggests sticking with cotton. It’s less likely to trap heat, and thus, less likely to bug ya.

    RELATED: These Are Officially the Most Effective Ways to Treat Yeast Infections

    3. Skip the Hot Tub
    “Hot tubs are notorious for harboring bacteria that can change the acid and PH levels in the vagina and cause yeast to grow,” says Johnson. Also: Private hot tubs (i.e. the one in your friend’s backyard) aren’t typically chlorinated, which means yeast has an even better chance of fluorishing, she says. If you’re going to dip, make sure it’s in a tub that’s treated with chlorine, and cap your soaks at a few minutes. Or, opt for the pool instead. Chlorine kills yeast, says Johnson, so get your swim on.

    4. Let Your Legs Breathe
    Flaunt your tiniest mini skirt, sans stockings: Doctor’s orders! “What’s really bad is the fabric of pantyhose,” says Johnson. “It traps heat and moisture and can cause yeast infections.” (Hey, you don’t have to tell us twice to trash our tights.)

    5. Choose Yogurt as Your Chilled Dessert of Choice
    Yogurt with active acidophilus—a bacteria that exists naturally in the vagina—can help treat yeast. Some ladies find relief from recurrent symptoms with yogurts like this or probiotics, says Johnson.

    RELATED: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Having Sex with a Yeast Infection

    6. Throw Out the Thongs
    Backless underwear doesn’t in itself cause yeast infections, says Johnson. But if you have hoo-ha troubles, docs typically suggest skipping them since they can bother your skin.

    via GIPHY

    7. Take Preventative Measures
    Sometimes there’s no way around it. Summertime = yeast infections (we hear you, girl). But there’s hope! Docs can prescribe a weekly preventative dose of an oral anti-fungal medicine called fluconazole for high-risk patients, says Johnson. If you think you need it, talk to your ob-gyn—summer’s too short!

    Gifs courtesy of giphy.com

    Cassie Shortsleeve Freelance Writer Cassie Shortsleeve is a skilled freelance writer and editor with almost a decade of experience reporting on all things health, fitness, and travel.

    Best summer tip for your lady bits

    Summer means swimsuits, and with 10,000 lakes, there’s no better place to take a refreshing dip than in Minnesota. Whether you’re poolside, at the lake or at the beach, water can mean mayhem for our lady bits.

    Our bodies, and in this case, our vaginas, do a great job of balancing themselves out; however, when you’re lounging in a wet swimsuit, that balance can go out of whack. Chemicals from a pool and bacteria from the ocean and lakes get absorbed into your swimsuit’s fabric. This creates a damp, warm place for budding germs to turn into a urinary tract infection (UTI), a bacterial overgrowth in the vagina known as bacterial vaginosis, or a yeast infection.

    All of these infections are treatable, but best of all, easily preventable. How? After jumping out of the lake, change into dry clothes or a dry swimsuit quickly, and wash your swimwear when you get home. Some people are more prone to vaginal infections than others, so be particularly mindful if you:

    • are pregnant
    • have diabetes or a weak immune system
    • take medications or antibiotics

    Back from the beach and think you have a down-there issue?
    If you’re noticing changes in vaginal discharge or are itching, swelling or sore, you could have a yeast infection. Increased grayish discharge and/or a pungent, fishy odor may be signs of bacterial vaginosis. Some symptoms of a UTI are feeling like you have to pee frequently, and when you do, it burns or your urine appears cloudy.

    Talk with your primary care provider or do an online visit if you’re experiencing symptoms, and next time, pack a few extra suits in your beach bag.

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