Swimming in and of itself cannot cause white spots. That being said, there are elements in the water – whether pool, fresh or salt – that may contribute to the development of white spots. These elements range from chlorine to the presence of fungi. The best way to determine the cause of white spots on your skin is to consult your dermatologist.
Chlorine is commonly used to purify swimming water to prevent bacterial and fungal infections. However, swimming in chlorinated water can cause dry, white patches of skin on susceptible individuals. These patches of dry skin are not uniform and are usually limited to a few spots. Moisturizing and avoiding chlorinated swimming pools can make the spots go away. Ask for details regarding the water purification method before swimming in a public pool, as a number of other methods are used for purifying water.
Swimming Pool Rash
Swimming pool rash begins with reddish bumps that eventually turn white. The rash resembles chicken pox, but the cause of the rash is the pseudomonas aeruginosa, or PA, bacteria. This bacterium thrives in low-chlorine pools and fresh water swimming areas. It is not a life-threatening pathogen, and the rash itself will dissipate after approximately 10 days. But PA can lead to ear, nose and throat infections, as well as urinary tract infections. Seek medical treatment if you develop a rash or infection after swimming.
If, after swimming, uniform white spots appear over any portion of your body, it could be that the water of the pool or swimming hole was contaminated with the tinea versicolor fungus. This common fungus thrives in hot, humid climates and is not life-threatening. It is less invasive than PA bacterium, but it is a fungal infection. Tinea versicolor continues to spread without proper treatment.
Avoid White Spots from Swimming
Swim only in properly purified water and shower after swimming to remove any contaminants from your skin. Use an anti-bacterial soap and selenium-sulfide-based shampoo, advises Dr. Paul Donohue in an article on the SouthCoastToday.com website. Moisturize your skin after showering to avoid dryness.
Victor Fonseca started writing professionally in 1998. His specialties are history, popular culture, and information technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Southern Methodist University and spent a year studying at the American University of Rome.