Coral dermatitis. Days go by when I don’t think about it. Probably you too. But still, it may be more relevant to you than you think.
I love to dive in beautiful tropical water. That one bass after 40 minutes of diving in Dutch water is also nice, but seeing more than 9000 fish dancing on the coral is actually more fun. Though I will never say that out loud.
When I dive into that beautiful water, it is just a joy to have so much more freedom of movement because of my shorty compared to my material in the Netherlands. But there is also a disadvantage to bare skin in the water: you are less protected against the elements. And I don’t just mean the cold.
That diving suit also protects you against the animals that live in the tropical water. Not so much the fish, but especially the bacteria that live in water. They are really very different from above water. This is mainly because there is much less oxygen under water. information about freediving in Durban is found online. The bacteria in the water are often ‘anaerobic’ (if you want to radiate as if you know what it is about, you pronounce it as: an-er-oob), which means that they can live without oxygen. In addition, underwater bacteria are often very well able to survive in difficult conditions, sometimes much better than above water bacteria. If you have or get a wound under water, it is possible that these anaerobic bacteria get a place in your body. Fortunately, a solitary bacterium is not a problem for our immune system, but if there are a lot of them, you can suffer from it.
If you accidentally rub a piece of bare skin along the coral, there’s a good chance you’ll get a whole colony of these bacteria on board. And that can cause ‘vague’ skin complaints for a few days to weeks afterwards. Then you have long since returned to the Netherlands after your diving holiday and the doctor tries to help you with an ointment or antibiotic treatment. But because these bacteria can protect themselves so well, the usual cure does not work. Usually the GP will culture the wound, so that after a week it is known which bacteria is the culprit and which antibiotics are needed. As a patient, you have already had an unpleasant spot on your legs for a few weeks that can itch or hurt. First tip: tell your doctor that you’ve been on vacation recently, so they may be more likely to think the culprit is “an exotic bacteria,” which may require different therapy. Refer the GP to a recent article from ‘GP and Science’.
But prevention is better than cure: of course you shouldn’t have hit the reef. You can’t always control that. It also happened to me in Zeeland, when a buddy had to use me as an anchor because his lead pocket fell out of his vest. As a result, I was pushed onto the sharp wall and I had a nice tear on my knee in my just new neoprene suit. But currents and other factors can also cause you to get closer to the reef wall than intended.
When I dive in tropical water, I dive with a very old black and yellow 3mm neoprene suit that I once used in the pool. Just as much freedom of movement as a shorty, much more hygienic than the wetsuit I rent on site. Besides never feeling cold after long dives, I’m also the best dressed diver in the club. And as a bonus, I have just a little bit more protection against these underwater stowaways…