I have recently moved to the Georgia lowcountry area from living on a mountain in southwest Virginia.  While moving, my family and I have sustained some cuts/bumps/bruises on our feet and legs.  I personally have a cut on my right 3rd toe from running into a stray box that was in my kitchen.  Ouch!  

We were lucky enough to find a house with a small lake nearby that we have been very excited about.  The lake has a fishing dock and we had big plans for swimming and boating and leisurely fun in the water.  However, I was reminded of my medical training and my past experiences with patients regarding open sores on legs and feet and exposure to water.

The skin is the largest organ in the human body and is very important as a defense against the environment.  When there are open wounds or breaks in the skin one must be very careful for proper care and to not expose the broken skin to potential sources of infection.  

As a myth buster, I can tell you many of my patients think that exposure to ocean water or chlorinated pool water is a good thing for sores on the feet.  I have had many patient encounters that prove otherwise.  Broken skin and exposure to lakes/rivers/oceans/pools can be the source of nasty infections and can be very hard to treat.  Ocean water can be a source of wound infection from organisms like vibrio bacteria and others.  Fresh water can be a source of wound infection from organisms like aeromonas bacteria and others.  

The recommendation is that if you have sores or breaks in the skin, keep the areas protected with an over the counter antibiotic cream and light dressing and keep them clean and DRY!!  That is:  no exposure to water from lakes/rivers/oceans/pools and the like.  I will be following my own advice and will wait until the sore on my toe heals before getting involved in outdoor water activity.  

Also of note is that there are many factors involved with wound healing including overall health, systemic diseases, nutrition, proper care, presence of infection, and others.  If a sore appears for no known reason or fails to get better in an appropriate amount of time with proper care and treatment seek immediate medical attention, the sooner the better!

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