Psoriasis: Bathing in the pool is allowed

Psoriasis: Bathing in the pool is allowed

About two million people in Germany have psoriasis. This is a reaction disorder of the skin that manifests itself as inflammation and scaling in very different forms but is not contagious or infectious. According to the bathing regulations, people with psoriasis were forbidden from entering public swimming pools until 2005. Today, however, like others, they can visit public baths.

Baths Association rewrites model bathing regulations.

In 2005, after negotiations with the German Psoriasis Association (DPB), the German Society for Bathing changed the model bathing regulations for public swimming pools. The passage “People who (…) suffer from skin changes where, for example, scales or scabs are peeling off and spilling over into the water” has been removed from the model bathing regulations. Instead, § 2 c was changed to:

“Entrance is not permitted: people suffering from a notifiable, communicable disease (if in doubt, a medical certificate can be requested) or open wounds”.

Nevertheless, some bathing regulations still contain stigmatizing or exclusionary formulations towards people with psoriasis. For example, access is sometimes denied to people who suffer from “unaesthetic” skin changes or rashes. According to the German Psoriasis Association assessment, this violates the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG). Anyone who discovers such wording in bathing regulations can contact the DPB, who will try to take action.

Psoriasis is not unhygienic.

Everybody loosens skin flakes while bathing. Even with a person suffering from psoriasis, it is not to be expected that many scales will come off, which could pollute the bath water. The average hygiene measure that applies to all bathers, namely a thorough shower before bathing, is sufficient to rinse off loose scales.

“We recommend our patients to take a nice shower beforehand and brush off carefully with a soft brush, then no more dandruff gets into the water than with others,” explains dermatologist Prof. Dr Joachim Barth: “What remains is the sight of a skin disease that other bathers may find unpleasant.” Here, the bathing staff could help mediate and inform bathers who should be offended about the disease.

Swimming despite skin disease

One can only hope that many psoriasis patients will use their rights: after all, it takes courage to visit a public swimming pool with a visible skin disease and expose yourself to the looks of others. People with psoriasis suffer from being stared at and ostracized because of their skin. They tend to hide themselves and their sick skin as they often feel left out and rejected.

Therefore, the change in bathing regulations was primarily seen as a moral victory against social stigmatization and exclusion. Now, psoriasis patients no longer need to fear being thrown out of the swimming pool because of their skin disease—a piece of normality for about 2 million people affected in the Federal Republic.


Bathing is an essential part of psoriasis therapy.

In particular, psoriatics (people with psoriasis) can benefit significantly from bathing. “Bathing is an important part of therapy,” explains Prof. Barth. According to a study by the German Dermatological Society (DDG), the effectiveness of therapeutic brine baths has been proven in 1,200 patients.

Bathing softens the upper layer of skin, which UV rays can better penetrate. The optical density of the skin is improved, allowing the sun’s rays to penetrate deeper into the skin. The UV-B radiation causes the inflammatory cells, which play an essential role in the disease process, to be killed.

Nibblers: treatment by small fish?

Another form of bathing treatment – not in a swimming pool, but in an aquarium or (even better) in a thermal bath in Turkey – is bathing with nibbling fish, also known as Kangal fish therapy. Certain fish, the garra rufa (reddish sucker mullet) and the carp-like surgeonfish (Leucsicus cephalus) have been known to nibble off the scaly patches of skin, much like a scrub. Those affected by psoriasis can have peace of mind from their disease after such treatment. Many report positive experiences.

But be careful: the benefit of this form of therapy has yet to be scientifically confirmed. There is also evidence that treatment in Turkey may have the most significant impact, as the mix of medicinal water, climate, sun, and holiday relaxation also impacts success.

Conclusion: Bathing with psoriasis is recommended

Bathing, preferably in brine, and then sunbathing help to reduce psoriasis. Especially in the outdoor pool season, it is an excellent benefit for psoriasis patients to enjoy the healing power of water and sun.

Sauna bathing is also particularly beneficial for people living with psoriasis. Sweating and frequent water applications cause the top layer of skin to swell. The stubborn calluses on the skin affected by psoriasis can be softened and removed.

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