Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sam Riley Swim School Review: Hunter's First Swimming Lesson: Swimming Rashes On Baby

Hunter had his first ever swimming lesson at Forest Lake Sam Riley Swim School last weekend. Despite coming home covered in the red spots of swimmers itch (also known as swimmers rash or chlorine rash), 9 month old Hunter had a great time. On their website, Sam Riley Swim School describes its goal to be "maintaining an environment for children to learn-to-swim that is fun, happy, stimulating and encouraging that will keep kids smiling". I would agree that the lesson met those goals.

Hunter is wearing frog togs from Target. There was a matching hat, but that has sadly disappeared into the ether.
The staff we dealt with were lovely, and very professional. They gave instructions as clearly as possible over the din of a hundred screaming, squealing and splashing toddlers, children, parents and instructors, and were always smiling. My son was very comfortable in the company of the instructor, and she made my husband (who was actually in the pool) feel confident- which was also a major achievement on the instructors behalf.


I do have some feedback that is less than glowing- obviously coming home with an itchy swim rash is partly to do with sensitive baby skin and partly to do with an unknown child taking liberties with the urine/poo content of the water, both of which are beyond the control of the Sam Riley Swim Team. The Sam Riley Swim School legally has to keep a strict control on the pH level of the pool, and walk a fine line with the amount of chemicals they use- and despite their best efforts all it takes is one ill fitted swim nappy, or one ignorant parent and suddenly you have a warm patch in the already body-temperature water and the associated bacteria. I have some comments on preventing and treating swimming rashes in infants below.  

I have no gripe about the swim rash. However coming home with ringing ears because the venue (a big tin shed) has no acoustic deadening in place is definitely within their control, as is installing baby change tables in both male and female toilet areas. The venue was booming with sound, bouncing as sound does off the reflective surfaces of water, concrete, and steel. Just sitting on the sideline and taking photos was enough to leave me, a consummate concert goer, feeling headachey and miserable. Next time I will bring ear plugs. Additionally, in the Saturday beginners class, all the kids were in the pool with dad or male guardians. And after class, the kids were all bundled out into the parking lot to get changed on the backseat of the family car, as there is no baby change table in the male toilet, and no unisex parent facility for these involved and eager pappa bears.

My suggestion, which I have made in person to the desk staff, was that these two issues be looked at as soon as possible as they would infinitely improve the customer experience, and also help ensure their lovely staff do not develop industrial deafness. Apart from those two issues, the overall Sam Riley experience was wonderful, and I recommend their services to anyone looking to teach their child water safety.

Swimmers Rash and Swimmers Itch On Infants

This was Hunter's tummy, the day after swim lessons.

This was Hunter's foot, about an hour after swimming.
From Healthy Skin Care:
A swimming pool rash is common among people that swim in chlorinated pools often. However, this skin rash problem may also occur when swimming in lakes, rivers, etc. or when relaxing in a hot tub or whirlpool. The swimming rash may also be known by other names such as hot tub rash, chlorine rash, or swimmer’s itch. These may or may not refer to the same type of skin rash problems. The swimming pool rash may refer to the skin being exposed to excessive amounts of chlorine, which is a skin irritant. Chlorine is a necessary component in swimming pools and hot tubs in order to kill bacteria that can lead to skin and health problems. If the strength of the chlorine in the water is too strong or if repetitive exposure to chlorinated water occurs, a chlorine rash or chlorine itch may develop. This is a form of chemical dermatitis.

A swimming pool rash or skin infection is often caused by bacteria such as pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA). This bacterium is prevalent in hot tubs, spas, and whirlpools. Whirlpools, etc., often contain warm water, which causes disinfectants to break down, and bacteria to grow. Pseudomonas bacteria leads to an all-over body rash, which may include blisters and sometimes looks like chicken pox. The itchy skin rash generally appears 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the pseudomonas bacteria. The bacterium also targets the general health of individuals by causing eye, ear, nose, and throat irritations or infections. Urinary track infections are also possible.

The skin rash will generally disappear without treatment after 7 to 10 days, unless complications such as infections develop. Infections of the skin or other parts of the body need to be examined and treated by a physician. The swimming pool rash or more specifically swimmer’s itch, can also be caused by parasites from birds and mammals. This type of skin rash results from swimming in lakes, ponds, rivers, and oceans. The symptoms are similar to the skin rash caused by bacteria as described above.
I read that and saw the images of the sad looking babies covered in red welts and thought "yep, Hunter has the itch. But there is no way I'm leaving him to wiggle and scratch at his itch without helping relieve the pain". And so I bathed him in a bicarb bath-  I ran a normal bath (no soap or bubble bath) and added a generous sprinkling (approx 2 tablespoons) of bicarb soda to the water. I made sure every part of him was rinsed off, and then let him play in the water for a while. Once I dried him, I massaged Burt's Bees Baby Bee Calming Lotion onto the affected area. If you don't have any of this product, any other phthalate-, petrochemical- and paraben-free moisturising lotion will do (so that cancels out all Johnson And Johnson products), as would a small amount of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. I avoided soap on him for four days, and repeated the above process each day. By the fifth day Hunters red welts were basically gone, and his smile was back.

For future lessons, I will be lathering Hunter up with a barrier cream- and allowing some time for the product to sink in so he isn't a slippery little eel in the pool. Some recommend Ego QV Cream, other pure lanolin, others still olive or coconut oil, but I am going to try Pure Nutraceuticals Paw Paw Papaya Ointment with Calendula- So far I have had wonderful experiences with this product. It has saved my lips from being chapped, healed scars, softened up rough elbows and heels, and stopped nappy rash dead in its tracks.
General advice to parents embarking on their first swim lessons 

Wearing a t-shirt in the pool allows bub the opportunity to grab a hold of something other than your skin, and a t-shirt or surf-shirt/rash-guard (AKA Rashie) on bub will allow you the same liberty. Remember though that chlorine destroys cotton so do not wear a beloved shirt, and make time to rinse and launder your swim stuff as soon as possible or you may find yourself holding the threadbare remains of your beloved shirt and wishing you had a time machine to either a. go back in time and buy two, or b. wear that baggy old ugly T-shirt from that team building exercise you did for your old work- team building exercise '99. Packing a bag of snacks and bubs water bottle or sippycup, extra towels, your camera, fresh swim nappies, fresh normal nappies and dry clothes will also ensure that all bases are covered. I noticed that my swim school has a cafe- I might even bring some change and sneak in some caffeine while I watch my boys next week, because as everyone knows, a caffeinated mum is a happy mum. 

So happy!
 The whole time I watched my boys learn to swim, I had this song in my head.

A third had just been made and we were swimming in the water, 
didn't know then was it a son was it a daughter.
When it occurred to me that the animals are swimming
Around in the water in the oceans in our bodies and
Another had been found- another ocean on the planet
Given that our blood is just like the atlantic. And how.

-Modest Mouse

Dive right in,
Sandi D

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