Living in a hot and humid climate can cause all sorts of irritations and breakouts to occur on the skin, from itchy rashes to sunburn and scaly warts. And, because children across the UAE spend so much time in the water, some of the more common skin complaints that present themselves are easily spread (or shared) between little friends. Although a person’s risk varies, even those with healthy immune systems can develop these little nasties. It might not be the kind of conversation that any of us relishes while relaxing by the pool, but knowing what to look out for can go a long way in easing the worry.
Dr Santosh Daflapurkar, a specialist dermatologist at City Centre Clinic Me’aisem, says that wet environments are a breeding ground for transmittable skin conditions. “Children here spend a lot of time cooling down in swimming pools, splash pads and water parks, and this can lead to some common skin conditions. One of the most frequent viruses we see is molluscum contagiosum, which presents itself as small growths or wart-like bumps, called mollusca and are usually pink, white or skin-coloured.”
As you can guess by its name, this skin disorder is contagious, and can be passed from one person to another and, being part of the pox family, is viral in nature. Often spread by a single individual through scratching and rubbing, it is unknown how long the period of active contagion lasts. Dr Daflapurkar explains that, in its mild form, it can be treated by an immunomodulator cream. In more severe cases, a visit to the dermatologist will allow for needle extirpation and cryotherapy treatments to remove the growths.
Another plague of the swimming pool set are plantar warts, more commonly known as verrucae. These present themselves as small, bumpy growths on the soles of the feet, sometimes with tiny black dots on the surface and can cause pain when standing, walking and running.
Very common in children, plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus and virtually everyone will have a wart (or several) someplace at some time in their lives. Although these pesky little bumps often disappear on their own, in more severe cases a dermatologist might suggest a wart solution, cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen or electro-cauterization.
Like with many infectious diseases, prevention is always the best cure for these kinds of conditions. Dr Daflapurkar stresses the importance of good hygiene practices around the water. “Never share a towel and try as much as possible to wear protective footwear around swimming pool areas,” he warns. “On diagnoses of a virus, make sure to cover the infected area with a waterproof plaster to prevent transmission. Try as much as possible to avoid getting wet if you have any injuries or small cuts to the skin.” He also recommends a liberal application of an emollient after using the pool or in the shower after being at the beach. We’ll be packing plenty of extra towels in our bags from now on, then!
City Centre Clinic Me’aisem, www.citycentreclinic.com (04 205 2772).