Should I Swim with an Open Wound?

Have you ever faced the difficult decision on whether or not you should swim while you have an open wound? Chances are, you have. There is quite a bit of conflicting information on the internet on whether or not you should swim with an open wound. We’ve combed through article after article, trying to find the most comprehensive answers for you.


Visibly Better Protection DrySee color-changing bandages that let you know if they’ve been compromised are the best way to keep your wound safe and clean. Purchase DrySee bandages today to have the latest in wound care in your medicine cabinet or first-aid kit.

Use code BLOG20 to get 20% off your DrySee order.

Most signs point to limiting the exposure of your wound to water, while it is healing. This is based on two things that have the potential to happen, if your wound is exposed to water. The first thing that can occur is microbial or bacterial infection. We’ll cover this topic more in depth below. The second negative consequence that can occur, is an impairment on the healing process. When an open wound is exposed to water, there is the potential for irritation and inflammation of the skin surrounding the wound. When this happens, the healing process will be slowed down, creating a prolonged healing period.

Consider Wound Size

If you have a small cut– think something along the lines of a paper cut or small scrape– chances are, you will be safe to go for a quick swim. The larger the wound, the more precautions necessary. Ultimately, the larger the wound, the larger the risk you put yourself at by deciding to swim, especially if the wound is exposed directly to water.

Consider the Type of Water

The type of water you decide (or not) to swim in, plays a big part in the outcome of such a scenario. Chlorinated pools are typically safe to swim in, especially if your cut is small. The amount of chlorine used in modern day pools will help to kill a large amount of troublesome bacteria before they ever have the chance to reach your open wound. Regardless of the cleanliness of a swimming pool, it’s best to not take chances with larger wounds. For peace of mind and protection against infection, it is best to either simply not swim or use a sealed, waterproof bandage that will keep interaction between the wound and water to a minimum. Open water should be avoided if you have an open wound. Open water contains a plethora of bacteria that can infect open wounds, slowing down the healing process, create health complications, or possibly put your life at risk. While you can take precautions to cover and seal open wounds when swimming in open water, there are still risks. The best precaution for swimming with an open wound in open water, is not swimming at all.

Is My Wound Infected?

There are numerous infections that can be caused by swimming in both open and chlorinated water, albeit they are more likely to occur in lakes, ponds and reservoirs. The “CDC says these bodies of water can harbor other contagions including norovirus, E. Coli and bacteria in the Shigella family”. (Source) While these infections are particularly troublesome, another infection– Necrotizing Fasciitis— “typically will cause the skin cells and soft tissue to die (necrotize), and in serious cases may cause further complications that can lead to serious illness, amputation, and even death” (source). Whatever the infection may be, it’s important to be on the lookout for symptoms if your healing wound has come into contact with chlorinated or open water. We have compiled a list, from multiple sources, of symptoms to be aware of and keep and eye out for. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your health provider immediately:

  • Small, red, painful lumps on the skin

  • Skin that breaks open and oozes fluid

  • Fever, sweating, chills, or nausea

  • Dizziness and weakness

  • Shock

  • Swollen tissue that is hot to the touch and very painful

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Sunburn-like rash

  • Large, dark boil-like blisters

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach pain

  • Dehydration

How to Protect Against Infection

Should you decide to take the risk and swim with an open wound, precautions can be taken to decrease the risk of your wound coming in direct contact with water. Following your healthcare provider’s guidance is paramount in helping your recovery process, whether after surgery or after suffering an injury. Healthy diet, applying any necessary antimicrobial ointment, and generally keeping a close eye on the wound site will promote a successful recovery. When it comes to swimming, a reliable waterproof adhesive bandage with a sturdy seal may be your best line of defense against exposing your open wound to potentially harmful bacteria. There are numerous bandages on the market that have waterproof seals. However, only one of these bandages, DrySee®, features a liquid intrusion alert that allows you to visually see if the bandage has become compromised. If utilizing DrySee® bandages while swimming, there is a greater peace of mind knowing whether or not your wound has come into direct contact with water. If the outer perimeter liquid intrusion alert stays a light blue, you’re in the clear! More information on DrySee® bandages can be found here.

Visibly Better Protection

DrySee color-changing bandages that let you know if they’ve been compromised are the best way to keep your wound safe and clean. Purchase DrySee bandages today to have the latest in wound care in your medicine cabinet or first-aid kit. Use code BLOG20 to get 20% off your DrySee order.


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