Whether a river, an ocean or a pool -- nothing is as inviting as a body of water on a hot, summer’s day. It’s cool and refreshing, but, after a shallow dive into the subject … I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it can be dangerous!
Let’s start with a dip in the pool, which is most likely chlorinated. Some people are particularly sensitive to the chlorine and can develop what is known as SWIMMER'S EYE or, chlorine conjunctivitis. It is essentially eye irritation but it stings and it can be pretty miserable. Goggles can help, but that's not a sure thing to keep it at bay.
Homeopathic Euphrasia or “Eyebright” for burning eyes and watery eyes. Pain as if something were in the eye. Puffy eyes. Red eyes. When “eye” is in the name of the remedy, you know it’s a good place to start.
Arsenicum album for profuse, watery, burning discharge. There is often a level of restlessness.
Or, Similisan’s Redness & Itchy Eye Relief* would be a good thing to keep in the cupboard if you or your child is prone to this.
Moving from the pool to a natural body of water can bring it’s own set of problems, namely, SWIMMER'S ITCH or Cercarial Dermatitis.
Caused by a parasite that gets under the skin (Kolářová et al. 2012) and triggers an allergic reaction, swimmer’s itch is as the name suggests, an itchy rash.
If the rash is blistery and oozy, look to Graphites.
If the rash burns, stings and itches, try Sulphur.
If the rash stings and is raised and fluid filled, try Apis.
Regardless of what kind of water you’re swimming in, swimmer’s ear is basically an outer ear infection caused by trapped water in your ear that can lead to the growth of bacteria (Mayo Clinic).
For sharp ear pain with a sudden onset, Belladonna. There may be redness and throbbing pain.
An aching ear pain that feels like the ear is stopped up, Chamomilla.
If there is discharge and itching, try Hepar sulph.
Or, Similason has a new formula: Swimmer's Ear Relief*.
If you are lucky enough to be near the ocean, beware of JELLYFISH!
Potentially harmful jellyfish are found in most oceans and can cause both dermatological problems as well as systemic issues (Mebs 2014). The venom of the 51 species of box jellyfish can kill a human in less than 2 minutes (Baldwin 2022).
The Wilderness Medical Society has published “Jellyfish Stings: A Practical Approach” (Lakkis et al. 2015). If you left your stinger suit hanging in the closet and manage to get stung, conventional medicine doesn’t have a lot to offer. “The literature published on the treatment of jellyfish stings is limited, conflicting, and lacks consensus.” In short, help the person out of the water, keep them from rubbing the stung area and reassure them. Some say to apply cold, others heat. If it’s a life-threatening species, call an ambulance immediately. (Be careful when helping someone with a jellyfish sting as stinging cells may be spread on contact.)
Once again, this is a situation where homeopathy can come in very handy. Homeopathy doesn’t care if the sting is a result of a jellyfish or a bee. If the symptoms match the remedy, there is a good chance relief will follow.
First Aid with Homeopathy (Mateu 2020) says applying vinegar can decrease the effect of the toxins.
For all these homeopathic jellyfish remedy recommendations, repeat every five minutes until significantly better and then begin to lengthen the time between doses.
For most “run of the mill” jellyfish stings, try Apis mellifica. For intense burning and stinging followed by redness and swelling. The person needing Apis will generally be worse from warm applications.
If the affected area feels cold and also feels better from cold, try Ledum.
Urtica urens can be applied topically as well as ingesting the homeopathic remedy. The person needing Urtica will be experiencing great itchiness and burning, similar to experiencing stinging nettles (from which the remedy is made).
If the pains are more neuralgic in nature and radiating out, try Hypericum.
It’s a warm, beautiful day with a little breeze and you think, “what could possibly go wrong?” Well, Hypothermia is one thing that can ruin your day.
“That only happens in the cold, right?” Um. Nope. The only requirement for hypothermia to set in is anything that causes a severe drop in body temperature. It can happen in perfect conditions (Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission 2022) and, actually, swimming doesn’t even need to be involved.
It can happen from being in the water or from being caught in a rainstorm. When I was a kid, my brother went sailing on a too cold day and he returned way too cold. I remember being instructed to lie down on the kitchen floor next to him under a blanket to try and warm him up. I now know that is termed “external passive rewarming” and is the method of choice for mild hypothermia. A slow and gentle warming is what you’re after.
For hypothermia to set in, the water doesn’t have to be cold, just cooler than your body temperature. Children, the elderly, injured or intoxicated people are more susceptible (Paal et al. 2022). Shivering, confusion, breathing issues, and muscle dysfunction are some of the symptoms which may be experienced with a significantly lowered body temperature.
The Natural First Aid Handbook (Mars 2017) recommends hot water bottles to the groin and sides of the torso and warns against rubbing or massaging an individual with hypothermia. First Aid with Homeopathy (Ratera 2016) recommends hot liquids and moderate warmth to the abdomen via a hot water bottle and also talks about breath as a treatment for hypothermia. “The helper places his mouth against the spine, between the shoulder blades, and breathes out in long breaths, blowing directly against the clothing. Almost immediately, local heat is felt, and gradually this heat spreads through the body if the exercise is continued. This technique helps to warm, and also to calm the patient. It can therefore also be used in crises of asthma or panic, to calm the patient and restore natural breathing.” Fascinating!
Other than warming the person, what can be done? Homeopathy, of course!
If the person is conscious, give a dose of Aconite to help with the shock.
Bellis perennis is useful in thermal shock (Ratera 2016). Thermal shock can happen from any sudden exposure to cold when the body is hot — even drinking cold drinks when the body is hot.
Carbo vegetabilis can be useful for persons who are chilly, with cold perspiration and cold breath. Other symptoms may include coldness, numbness and weakness.
Veratrum album is for internal coldness, as if ice-water is in the veins. Weakness and collapse with coldness.
If the person is icy cold but wants to be uncovered, consider some homeopathic Camphor. Cramps, convulsions or shock may be present.
Regardless of the size of the body of water, drowning is always something to watch out for and contrary to what we have seen in the movies, drowning is often completely silent (Redcross. CA 2013). See sidebar for "signs a swimmer is in trouble."
According to Stop Drowning Now (2018), in the US, 10 people die every day from drowning. “Drowning is fast and silent and can happen in as little as 20-60 seconds.”
When my son was little, I turned my back to get his floaties and the other mother with me (who I thought was watching all the kids!) said, “I didn’t know he could swim.” I turned around and I saw him standing on the bottom of the pool, completely underwater, eyes open, looking up at me. He couldn’t swim! He definitely did not belong there! That could have been a disaster. It was absolutely instantaneous — shockingly fast! Thankfully, he was completely fine. I will never be able to get that vision out of my mind. It was terrible.
CPR or the Heimlich maneuver, followed by mouth-to-mouth is the standard recommendation. Venema (et al. 2010) claim that 30% of rescued drowning victims require CPR. Get medical help immediately.
If the person is unconscious, administer homeopathic Carbo vegetabilis while waiting for help to arrive. Carbo veg is known as “the corpse reviver” and should be administered frequently. To avoid inhaling the remedy, place the pellet between the lips and the teeth and let it dissolve there.
If the person is better when sitting up but is experiencing a rattling in the chest, try Antimonium tart.
Lachesis is indicated when the person is suffering asphyxia and the pulse is very weak.
If there is a “near miss” like I described with my son, it may not be over and done with when you have them out of the water and breathing on their own again. Jama Pediatrics (Stern and Thompson 2022) notes that “symptoms of drowning such as gasping or difficulty breathing most commonly occur immediately. In rare cases, symptoms may develop after a nonfatal drowning. If a child develops worsening cough, fast breathing rate, vomiting or change in mental status after nonfatal drowning, take them to the nearest emergency department for evaluation.”
It may seem like it’s better (and safer!) to just dip your toes in the water to cool off, but no! Life is too short to sit out the swim!
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
* I have no affiliation with this company, I just like their products.
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING:
Baird, J. K. and Wear, D. J., 1987. 12 Cercarial dermatitis: The swimmer’s itch. Clinics in Dermatology, 5 (3), 88–91.
Baldwin, E., 2022. Box Jellyfish: The Dangerous Jellyfish | Ocean Info [online]. oceaninfo.com.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, 2022. Hypothermia [online]. Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Gordy, M. A., Cobb, T. P. and Hanington, P. C., 2018. Swimmer’s itch in Canada: a look at the past and a survey of the present to plan for the future. Environmental Health, 17 (1).
Hoeffler, D. F., 1977. ‘Swimmers’ itch’ (cercarial dermatitis). Cutis [online], 19 (4), 461–465, 467.
Kolářová, L., Horák, P., Skírnisson, K., Marečková, H. and Doenhoff, M., 2012. Cercarial Dermatitis, a Neglected Allergic Disease. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology [online], 45 (1), 63–74.
Lakkis, N. A., Maalouf, G. J. and Mahmassani, D. M., 2015. Jellyfish Stings: A Practical Approach. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine [online], 26 (3), 422–429.
Lessell, C. B., 1999. The world travellers’ manual of homoeopathy. Saffron Walden: C.W. Daniel.
Mateu, M., 2020. First aid with homeopathy. Kandern, Germany Narayana Verlag.
Mayo Clinic, n.d. Swimmer’s ear - Symptoms and causes [online]. Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic, n.d. Swimmer’s itch - Symptoms and causes [online]. Mayo Clinic.
Mebs, D., 2014. Durch Quallen verursachte Verletzungen. Jelly Fish Sting Injuries Der Hautarzt [online], 65 (10), 873–878.
Paal, P., Pasquier, M., Darocha, T., Lechner, R., Kosinski, S., Wallner, B., Zafren, K. and Brugger, H., 2022. Accidental Hypothermia: 2021 Update. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health [online], 19 (1), 501.
Ratera, Dr. M. M., 2016. First Aid with Homeopathy. Kander, Germany: Narayana Verlag.
Redcross. CA, 2013. Drowning: A silent killer - Canadian Red Cross [online]. Red Cross Canada.
Schmukler, A. V., 2006. Homeopathy : an A to Z home handbook. Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications.
Smith, S., 2007. Medical homoeopathy. West Wickham England: Winter Press.
Stern, A. M. and Thompson, L. A., 2022. What Parents Should Know About Drowning and Dry Drowning. JAMA Pediatrics [online].
Stop Drowning Now, 2018. Facts & Stats About Drowning - Stop Drowning Now [online]. www.stopdrowningnow.org.
Szpilman, D., Bierens, J. J. L. M., Handley, A. J. and Orlowski, J. P., 2012. Drowning. New England Journal of Medicine [online], 366 (22), 2102–2110.
Venema, A. M., Groothoff, J. W. and Bierens, J. J. L. M., 2010. The role of bystanders during rescue and resuscitation of drowning victims. Resuscitation [online], 81 (4), 434–439.
Julia Coyte, CHom
I am passionate about homeopathy and I love sharing this passion. Having a working knowledge of homeopathy shouldn't be kept a secret. If people have the ability to help themselves, their children and their friends when they have minor ailments, life just gets better for everyone. That is the purpose behind Ruminating on Remedies.