dreamstime_7063726Summer is hot. In the Washington DC area, it’s not only hot but it’s unbearably humid as well. The combination is very much like sitting in a stinky sauna that someone built inside a brick pizza oven. Not very pleasant.

To escape the muggy misery of Washington DC in the summer, many residents take advantage of any and all chances to go swimming. Plunging yourself into a pool, pond, lake, or even the ocean helps to wash away the sweat and reduce your core body temperature to a reasonable level.

You might be wondering what all this talk of heat waves and swimming pools has to do with primary care providers in Washington DC. The truth is that going swimming isn’t as simple and carefree as you might think. Diving into the community swimming pool or the local pond can put you in the path of several icky health threats.

Keep reading to discover what they are, then keep the primary care providers at Medics USA in Washington DC on speed dial in case you come into contact with one.

1. Pee In The Pool

Or at least, you HOPE it’s just pee. That’s right folks, all swimming pools, whether they’re public or private, contact urine. This is not only gross, it also poses a risk to your family’s health. According to the Centers For Disease Control, “Chlorine is used in pools and other chlorinated aquatic venues to kill germs, but when it binds to the body waste swimmers bring into pools (for example, sweat and urine) it can form chemicals called chloramines. Chloramines in the water, like dichloramine and trichloramine, irritate skin, eyes, and the respiratory tract (including the nose) when they off gas from the water and into the air above, particularly indoors.” In 2008, almost 4,600 persons visited an emergency department for pool chemical-associated health issues.

2. Swimmer’s Itch

Did learning about the effects of chlorine and urine in swimming pools make you want to swear off them forever? You may think that heading to a lake or pond might mean you’re in the clear. After all, these bodies of water are natural, completely free of synthetic chemicals. Well, we’ve got some bad news. Lakes and ponds may have fewer chemicals, but they have far more parasites, leading to a nasty condition known as swimmer’s itch.

“Swimmer’s itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, is a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to infection with certain parasites of birds and mammals. These microscopic parasites are released from infected snails who swim in fresh and saltwater,” reports MedicineNet.com.

3. Sand Fleas

Ok, so pools are full of pee, and lakes and ponds are full of parasites…is there anywhere to swim in the Washington DC area where you’re relatively safe from health threats? If you’re thinking about the beach, there’s just one little thing to be aware of. And we do mean tiny. Hiding in the sand, munching on your toes, are little parasites known as sand fleas. They often result in painful little red bumps around the ankles.

Although these gross problems might make going swimming seem a little less exciting, don’t worry: the primary care physicians at Medics USA in Washington DC is always available to help you feel better again.