Why Should You Shower After Swimming in A Lake?

Swimming in a lake can be so refreshing – it’s why you see so many people doing it and it’s become more popular with the rise of such events as the Christmas Day dip. However, you may think that because you’ve been swimming in a freshwater lake, you will not need a shower afterwards like when you’ve been in the sea, canals or a swimming pool but this is not the case! It is a good idea to shower after being in open water or chlorinated water to ensure you are free from any germs, bacteria or salt from the water which may cause harm in the long term. When taking any bathroom breaks, it is a good idea to try and have a quick wash before you nip to the toilet to reduce the risk of water-related illnesses. Having a good routine for disease control after swimming will only make your swim that much more refreshing and enjoyable and we all want to have fun while swimming!

If showers are not readily available, we recommend taking a large bottle of water with you and washing with that before you get dried and change into your normal clothes. Please remember that what we’re discussing below are only possible scenarios but it is better to be safe than sorry. 

What happens if you don’t shower after swimming in a lake?

Lake swimming looks peaceful and calm and absolutely is wonderful to be out in the open water, however, there are plenty of hidden bugs that may be lurking underwater. As these can be very dangerous, it is important to make sure that you wash thoroughly. Some issues that can occur are skin irritations; stomach and intestine diseases; respiratory diseases; ear infections and other swimming related illnesses. It’s scary to think about, but we want you to be prepared for what can happen if a shower just isn’t possible.

Skin Irritations

Swimmer’s itch doesn’t sound serious, but it can be. Microscopic parasites can burrow into the skin and cause redness, irritation and dry skin and in some extreme cases, swelling and sore spots. Washing straight after your swim in the lake can wash these away, especially if you can rub your hands or a clean sponge over yourself to ensure that any little bugs are off you. If you have an open cut or open wound, it is highly recommended that it is bandaged as best as possible or covered to try and minimise the risk of skin infections. 

It’s not just bugs you have to be wary of, lakes can also carry harmful chemicals that can irritate the skin, these include fertilisers that have been washed into the lake from farms or fields so should be washed off as soon as possible to stop any issues. There can also be irritants in the water that can give allergic reactions so make sure if you think you may be allergic to certain plants or have hayfever etc, have some antihistamines in your bag to help combat any irritation and skin rashes. 

Stomach and Intestinal Diseases

The very last thing you want after a swim is to feel sick, have diarrhoea, or stomach cramps. Ingesting irritants after a swim can happen if you don’t shower and you eat before washing your hands. You can also ingest them when swallowing any water so rinse your mouth out and seek medical advice if you feel any symptoms like sickness or diarrhoea. 

If the lake you’re swimming in is known for having harmful algal blooms, then please be aware that these will cause illness if touched or ingested so it’s best to stay away. They can be seasonal and last from weeks to months so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on any social media for the lake or beauty spot to see if it’s in season or if it’s safe to go swimming. 

Respiratory Problems

Those harmful algal blooms we mentioned above? As well as causing sickness, they can also cause problems in your respiratory system which can cause wheezing, flu-like symptoms and coughing if not washed off and accidentally inhaled. 

There are also other harmful things that could be in the lake such as industrial waste, fecal matter from animals, fish and birds and other waste products from the surrounding area. Inhaling these can cause some respiratory problems and being able to shower and wash everything clean and clear your nose and mouth after swimming in freshwater lakes especially if you swim in lakes regularly to avoid a potential chronic lung disease from repeatedly ingesting or inhaling the harmful bacteria that is in the water. 

Ear Infections

Having Swimmer’s ear is a common issue that happens with spending time in the water or doing recreational water activities but can be exacerbated by swimming in a body of water such as a freshwater lake. Lake water quality will probably not be the best and you will more than likely end up with water hitting your ears and getting inside. By having a shower you can reduce the risk of getting an infection of the outer ear canal.

When washing after a dip in the lake, it’ll be a worthwhile job to pay particular attention to the ears and clean these carefully, making sure any water is out of the ear and that you check they are completely clean and free of any little bugs or a tiny parasite. Wearing a swim cap will help keep your ears clean and free of bacteria too. 

Wearing appropriate clothing to go swimming in a lake will also increase your chances of staying fit and healthy and avoid skin irritation and keeping to designated spots whenever possible as the water is more likely to be monitored. The most important thing is to be prepared, take water if no showers, a towel and a sponge to get scrubbed and dried properly before you get changed. Hot showers will obviously work better in killing bacteria than cold water but you should work with what you have. 


How long can I go before showering after swimming in the lake?

We recommend showering immediately after you leave the water but no more than 30 minutes to an hour after getting out. Showering a couple of hours post-swim can cause problems as you’ll have possibly inhaled or ingested some bacteria. Getting clean and dry as soon as possible is better to avoid water recreation illnesses. Even having a quick shower with warm water is better than nothing. 

Should I Wash My Hair After Swimming in a Lake?

Yes, absolutely! If you can, you don’t have to shampoo and condition it but certainly make sure that water gets through it and you comb it through if you’ve not worn a swimming cap. It’s a great way to get any nasty bugs and water out of your hair and stops it from going dry and brittle from any chemicals in the water. 

Is it ok to shower in the lake?

We wouldn’t recommend it. You’ve just swam in it and so you’ll still have the bacteria on you and if you use lake water to shower, you’ll only have more of this bacteria on you. Your immune system will thank you for it and you’ll be less likely to end up with one of the medical conditions listed above.

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