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Swimwear and Hygiene: What You Need to Know


Swimwear hygiene can be a controversial topic, and not all the answers and opinions are accurate. If you’ve had swimsuit hygiene-related questions and want straight answers, here are a few of the most common swimwear hygiene concerns and what you need to know about them:

Common Swimwear Return Policies Related to the Hygienic Liner
We’ve all come across the return policy that says it’s federal law that a retailer can’t accept swimsuit returns when the protective liner in the crotch has been disturbed or removed. The truth is: many retailers cite federal law, but there’s some debate over whether or not any federal law governs this return policy. However, many states do have laws pertaining to the return or refund of “goods which cannot be resold due to health considerations.” Retailers are well within their rights to refuse to accept swimwear returns whose hygiene strips are disturbed, and state law in many places backs up this policy.

To Share, or Not to Share?
With that said, there’s a lot of debate over whether or not it’s safe to share swimsuits. Many people are concerned about diseases that can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, reasoning that swimsuits contact intimate areas and could then pass on germs and bacteria to the next wearer. Other people maintain that it’s safe to share swimwear if you wash it thoroughly. The safest way to deal with this question is to simply not share swimwear. You should definitely never share swimwear without washing it, and even if you do wash it, there is still some question about whether washing protects from all potential problems.

Hot Tub Rash
Hot Tub Rash is an infection of the skin that’s typically caused by a germ found in contaminated water in pools or hot tubs. Hot Tub Rash is spread by direct skin contact with contaminated water, and typically shows up within a few days. This infection is characterized by itchy skin that can produce a bumpy, tender rash. It sometimes also includes pus-filled blisters in surrounding hair follicles. Swimsuits can keep contaminated water in longer contact with the skin, so the infection is sometimes worse under a swimsuit. Always wash your swimwear after swimming, and shower thoroughly – with soap – to reduce your chances of infection from contaminated water.

Swimming Hygiene from the CDC
The CDC has a publication about swimming hygiene that details the risks of swimming and contracting “recreational water illnesses.” These illnesses are typically caused by germs that are spread by swallowing, breathing in mists, or having contact with contaminated water from swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes, rivers or oceans. To reduce the risk of RWIs, the CDC advises to shower with soap before you start swimming, and take a rinse shower before you get back into the water. Wash your hands and clean thoroughly after bathroom breaks. As gross as it sounds, poop, pee and related germs cause many of the RWIs, and this can be prevented by good swimming hygiene.

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