Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is it okay to go swimming if I have a cut on my arm?"
I sliced my arm on a metal chair. I want to go swimming. Will the chlorine hurt my cut? Should I wait until it heals?
I am sure that you are aware that the first main level of defense that your body has against infection is your skin. Interestingly your skin is also the largest single organ in your body. It provides a physical, and immunologic barrier to infection. There are multiple layers in human skin, although it can be roughly broken down into three main categories. The outermost layer (epidermis) has multiple cell layers and keratin which is a protein that contributes to the fact that your skin is waterproof. The next deeper layer of skin is the dermis and is what holds hair follicles, etc. The deepest layer is called the hypodermis, or subcutaneous tissue. There are immune cells called langerhans cells within the epidermis that are something called APCs (antigen presenting cells) that bind to, and identify potential infectious agents and activate the immune system to respond. If the cut you got from the chair was fairly superficial, then the barrier protection of the skin should be intact. If it is deeper, then your may be at higher risk of infection. The fact that it sounds like you are going to be swimming in a pool (you mention chlorine) and not "dirty water" such as a pond or lake, is beneficial as chlorine will kill most of the bacteria in the water. If you are still worried that you may get an infection from swimming, I would recommend having a physician take a look at your cut to see how deep it is and instruct you accordingly. I wish you all the best.
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