Swimming in the public pools

** Originally posted by karin1974 **

Hi there my name is Karin. I have had Psoriasis for 20 years now. About three or four years ago I went with my two children to the public pool and was told that I could not swim there. I was so embarrassed that I almost started to cry. I treid to explain to the people running the pool that I had psoriasis and that it was not contagious. They refused to listen to it and just looked at me like I was from another planet or something. My children were very upset by this also and demanded that they get their money back that we had to pay to get into the pool with. I have not been back to a public pool for swimming since then. I just wish there was some way to convince people that Psoriasis is not at all contageuos!! I am also still hoping for a cure for it.
Karin

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37 replies. Join the discussion

** Originally posted by ElleRae **

I know how you feel Karin1974.

When I moved into the apartment complex that I now live in, two years ago... They politely told me that it would be best if I didn't swim in the community pool. So I asked if I could at least sun bathe there since I didn't have a porch or anything. The answer was a curt 'No'.

You'd think they would have something on like Dr. Phil or at least the news... nothing. It's like they cover it up like a dirty secret or something. = / Or maybe I just do not watch enough television. heh.

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** Originally posted by JayBee **

ElleRae-

this is absolute BS. not only should they not prohibit you from using the pool but legally they can not. this is blatant discrimination. i have a friend in south jersey who is a lawyer. let's talk about him writing a letter to them on your behalf. you can pm me on the subject if you like.

jb

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** Originally posted by AlrightyThen **

Karin, I'm really sorry that happened to you.

But JayBee is 100% correct. What they're doing is illegal, if you live the U.S. If it's a PUBLIC pool (as in funded by TAXPAYER money) and you already paid to swim there, all it will take is ONE phone call to your state's attorney general's office to get the ball rolling. They cannot legally make you stay out, since your condition is NOT hazardous or contagious.

Don't get hurt - get ANGRY. It's a wonderful motivator.

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** Originally posted by Comfortwear **

Well that's really bad how they treated you. I'd file a legal case to get their act straight.

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** Originally posted by lighthouse **

HI guys Pat here from NY and let me start off here by
1. saying I have psoriasis and I have had it pretty badly.
2. stating I have been a life guard and water safety instructor
3. stating I am a proud adviocator of ps patients rights
4. a very proud advocator of rights on both sides of the fence

Now to the no so good part. They are not discriminating against you. We cannot get around it - we have a disease that not only looks bad but has health issues....our skin flakes off and depending on the severeity of your illness, this can cause a health issue for enclosed water -as in swimming pools
I think we are very wrong in only seeing our side of the fence - is this not what started ps rights? This does not give us the right to only see our side of this discussion. When we swim it is only natual our skin is going to come off in the water. And people - when they swim - their mouths are opne so our skin can go into their mouths and they can swallow it

Now do you wish to swallow skin - never mind if it is yours or not? There is not a filter system in the world that can clean the water that fast nor does chlorine kill thoise germs right awy or melt away the skin. This is oine of those heartbreaks of psoriasis they are talking about - we have to acknowleddge our limitations l no matter how bad they are.
Again I have this disease too and I used to spend - and this is no lie - about 6-7 hours 5 days a week in the pool. I have swam in marathons and pretty durned good in water ballet....I am saying this so you know how much I loved to be in the water. But if we demand that people take us serisouly then we muist do the same right back. And there is no geting around it - it is pretty scuzzy to expect healthy people NOT to react to swimming around in water that has our flaked off skin and excretions from sores in it
Again if we want people to treat us right then we must do the same for them shouldn't we? Even if it hurts Please do not let this great idea of rights for people wqith psoriasis to get tainted by the wrong ideass. If you do not beloieve ke then call your local health office and they will tell you the same - granted they should not exclude you from swimming but there is no law saying they cannot - as long as you have an illness you are governed by the discretion of the pool and lifeguard - and the lifeguard is governed by the red cross, parks departmenrt, bd of health and the rules of whomever licensed them - dont blame the lifeguard until you know the policies of the pool office
They are not going to risk their job for you
The NPF does NOT advocate our rights and screw everyone else. I dont thinkn so anyway And I am trying hard to do the same. There are alot of people on this planet and at least 2/3 of them do NOT have psoriasis. They have to learn how to live with us YES but also we have to learn how to live with them

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** Originally posted by JayBee **

your logic, while sound, is not really accurate. first of all, people have various degrees of psoriasis. for example, i currently show some spots but do not shed nor do i have open sores. and, as karen said (and she and i often disagree) everyone sheds skin. should anyone wearing a band-aid be prevented from going in the pool? there's blood there, you know. what about people with acne and pimples? after all, pimples ooze into the pool. of course, kids pee in the pool all the time and while chlorine is effective, it does not immediately neutralize pee. what about someone with a bad sunburn who has started to peel? there's quite a bit of skin that comes off in the water. should they also be prohibited? this whole notion that you present about 2/3 of the world not having psoriasis is a bit scary. try and apply that logic to homosexuals or racial minorities. perhaps you already do.

jb

HI guys Pat here from NY and let me start off here by
1. saying I have psoriasis and I have had it pretty badly.
2. stating I have been a life guard and water safety instructor
3. stating I am a proud adviocator of ps patients rights
4. a very proud advocator of rights on both sides of the fence

Now to the no so good part. They are not discriminating against you. We cannot get around it - we have a disease that not only looks bad but has health issues....our skin flakes off and depending on the severeity of your illness, this can cause a health issue for enclosed water -as in swimming pools
I think we are very wrong in only seeing our side of the fence - is this not what started ps rights? This does not give us the right to only see our side of this discussion. When we swim it is only natual our skin is going to come off in the water. And people - when they swim - their mouths are opne so our skin can go into their mouths and they can swallow it

Now do you wish to swallow skin - never mind if it is yours or not? There is not a filter system in the world that can clean the water that fast nor does chlorine kill thoise germs right awy or melt away the skin. This is oine of those heartbreaks of psoriasis they are talking about - we have to acknowleddge our limitations l no matter how bad they are.
Again I have this disease too and I used to spend - and this is no lie - about 6-7 hours 5 days a week in the pool. I have swam in marathons and pretty durned good in water ballet....I am saying this so you know how much I loved to be in the water. But if we demand that people take us serisouly then we muist do the same right back. And there is no geting around it - it is pretty scuzzy to expect healthy people NOT to react to swimming around in water that has our flaked off skin and excretions from sores in it
Again if we want people to treat us right then we must do the same for them shouldn't we? Even if it hurts Please do not let this great idea of rights for people wqith psoriasis to get tainted by the wrong ideass. If you do not beloieve ke then call your local health office and they will tell you the same - granted they should not exclude you from swimming but there is no law saying they cannot - as long as you have an illness you are governed by the discretion of the pool and lifeguard - and the lifeguard is governed by the red cross, parks departmenrt, bd of health and the rules of whomever licensed them - dont blame the lifeguard until you know the policies of the pool office
They are not going to risk their job for you
The NPF does NOT advocate our rights and screw everyone else. I dont thinkn so anyway And I am trying hard to do the same. There are alot of people on this planet and at least 2/3 of them do NOT have psoriasis. They have to learn how to live with us YES but also we have to learn how to live with them

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** Originally posted by subtlecheetah **

I agree with jb. Sure, if there is blood running out of a psoriasis lesion it would not be wise to jump into the pool; however that goes for everyone, psoriasis or not. Skin in and of itself generally does not harbor anything infectious or contagious (and psoriasis flakes DEFINITELY do NOT).

I see this discussion as being about equality. The majority here are arguing that people with psoriasis should have equal rights. If someone without psoriasis decides not to swim in a pool because a person with psoriasis jumps in, that is their choice, they are free to swim or not. However when a person with psoriasis is denied the chance to swim, there is no choice for them, it has been taken away by another.

When I was in college I took a grappling class (i.e. sort of like wrestling but much more for self-defense than competition with lots of submission holds and chokes). The class was held in a wrestling room on mats. At that time my psoriasis was bad and I would often leave skin flakes on the mat. I did my best to lube up and exfoliate ahead of time, but I just couldn't totally eliminate the flakes. As a result others would see this and could end up rolling around on the mat with my skin flakes too. If I started making a mess I would sweep it out the door of the wrestling room with a large janitors broom that sat in the corner. I learned a lot in that grappling class and got an intense workout. I was so thankful that all my other classmates understood that the psoriasis was not my fault and were tolerant of it. They also knew I did my best to take care of it. And I can tell you for certain that at the end of that semester long PE class no one had experienced any ill health effects from putting up with my flakiness, which by the way my classmates experienced much more directly and in a smaller space than would be encountered by those in a pool.

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** Originally posted by stametst **

Hello,

I am a new member to the National Psoriasis Foundation and have found a lot of this information helpful. I don't know how long I have had psoriasis but I think I have had it since I was a teenager. Always had a problem with pulling skin off or it just itched terrible.

I agree it is a safety concern for everyone not to have open sores, blood or pus running out. Great way to get staph infections. I don't think it is against anyone although it is very frustrating to be told "no you can't do this." It has been years since I have been to a swimming pool and really do not go because this does concern other people. Sure I would love to go but as you say people stare and don't really understand it is not contagious just unsightly to look at.

I am just starting photo light therapy and am seeing how my skin is improving. Has anyone tried that? If so how long does the remission last? I have only had two treatments and my skin feels different. My dermatologist said it may take 20-40 treatments maybe more. My skin doesn't itch as much as it did. It is such a relief and hopefully this will continue. Hard to believe I might be clear by Christmas but too late to even think about using the pool unless it would be an inside pool.

I have been grocery shopping and have had people say you touch the food that we eat...heh, what is that on your hands? It has made me feel terrible and uncomfortable but I have reached a point in my life where you have to go on. When people ask I try to tell them it is psoriasis. You won't know what it is like until you are graced with it.

Thank you for listening.

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** Originally posted by TDD **

I HAVE HAD P SINCE I WAS A TEENAGER, EXTREMLY MILD!!!!!! NOW 30 SOME YEARS LATER I GOT IT FULL FORCE AND HAVE BEEN BATTLING IT SINCE 2001. I HAVE GOTTEN TO THE POINT THAT I REALLY DO NOT CARE WHAT PEOPLE THINK WHEN THEY SEE ME IN SHORTS AND A SHORT SLEEVE SHIRT. I HAVE MET SO MANY PEOPLE THAT STOP ME AND QUESTION ME ABOUT MY AREAS ONLY TO FIND OUT THEY TOO HAVE IT BUT DID NOT KNOW WHAT IT WAS, OR ARE HAVING THEIR MD TREAT THEM INSTEAD OF A DERM. DO NOT BE UPSET, STAND TALL AND PROUD TO BE YOU!
TDD

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** Originally posted by AlrightyThen **

HI guys Pat here from NY and let me start off here by
1. saying I have psoriasis and I have had it pretty badly.
2. stating I have been a life guard and water safety instructor
3. stating I am a proud adviocator of ps patients rights
4. a very proud advocator of rights on both sides of the fence

Now to the no so good part. They are not discriminating against you. We cannot get around it - we have a disease that not only looks bad but has health issues....our skin flakes off and depending on the severeity of your illness, this can cause a health issue for enclosed water -as in swimming pools
I think we are very wrong in only seeing our side of the fence - is this not what started ps rights? This does not give us the right to only see our side of this discussion. When we swim it is only natual our skin is going to come off in the water. And people - when they swim - their mouths are opne so our skin can go into their mouths and they can swallow it

Now do you wish to swallow skin - never mind if it is yours or not? There is not a filter system in the world that can clean the water that fast nor does chlorine kill thoise germs right awy or melt away the skin. This is oine of those heartbreaks of psoriasis they are talking about - we have to acknowleddge our limitations l no matter how bad they are.
Again I have this disease too and I used to spend - and this is no lie - about 6-7 hours 5 days a week in the pool. I have swam in marathons and pretty durned good in water ballet....I am saying this so you know how much I loved to be in the water. But if we demand that people take us serisouly then we muist do the same right back. And there is no geting around it - it is pretty scuzzy to expect healthy people NOT to react to swimming around in water that has our flaked off skin and excretions from sores in it
Again if we want people to treat us right then we must do the same for them shouldn't we? Even if it hurts Please do not let this great idea of rights for people wqith psoriasis to get tainted by the wrong ideass. If you do not beloieve ke then call your local health office and they will tell you the same - granted they should not exclude you from swimming but there is no law saying they cannot - as long as you have an illness you are governed by the discretion of the pool and lifeguard - and the lifeguard is governed by the red cross, parks departmenrt, bd of health and the rules of whomever licensed them - dont blame the lifeguard until you know the policies of the pool office
They are not going to risk their job for you
The NPF does NOT advocate our rights and screw everyone else. I dont thinkn so anyway And I am trying hard to do the same. There are alot of people on this planet and at least 2/3 of them do NOT have psoriasis. They have to learn how to live with us YES but also we have to learn how to live with them

Hi, Pat. I disagree with you. Totally.

Psoriasis is not contagious. So HOW do you akin allowing us to have the same rights as the rest of the taxpayers as "screwing everyone else"? I'd seriously love to hear the explanation for that "logic."

Shedding skin is something that every human being does, whether they have psoriasis or not. And if it is OK to keep out p. sufferers because of a fear of swallowing water with shedded skin in it, then children should not be allowed to swim either. Children will use a pool as a toilet without giving it a second thought. And nearly every incident of illness or death from infection from a public pool has been traced to a *sick child* defecating in that public pool. Why isn't anyone worried about THAT? We are still allowing children into public pools, even though they have been *proven* to be the cause of illnesses, but you think psoriasis sufferers should be kept out, even though NOT ONE incident of anyone else getting sick as a result of it has EVER been recorded?

Unless a person's skin is bleeding or oozing - whether from psoriais or poison ivy or hives or any other skin condition - there is NO reason to keep them out of a public pool. None. And keeping them out IS discrimination.

Maybe 2/3 of the world doesn't have p., but that is also true of AIDS, physical handicaps, mental challenges, and countless other medical issues.

If you want to try and justify ignorance and bigotry, go ahead. But I don't think many of us are going to fall for it.

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** Originally posted by EdR **

Hi

I'm a long time volunteer for the Foundation. For those who may come across Pat's (Lighthouse's) message and take it seriously - please don't. I have no doubt that Pat means well, and that her statements reflect her beliefs, but both the attitude she is expressing and the knowledge she is describing about psoriasis are dated - by at least twenty years.

First about psoriasis: Pat conjures an image of pieces of skin floating in a pool. As someone already mentioned, every human being continuously sheds skin. Skin cells (keratinocytes) continuously travel from the lower layers of the epidermis to the surface of the skin where they die, and eventually slough off. In psoriasis, the process is accelerated. So yes, there will be skin cells floating in pool water, and they'll have been produced by every occupant of the pool. Furthermore, childhood psoriasis is often in the form of guttate psoriasis which is covered with far less scale than plaque psoriasis. She also characterizes psoriatic skin as being "germ" infested. Exactly the opposite is true. Psoriatic skin contains a high concentration of beta-defensins and cathelicidins - "antibacterial peptides" that are naturally generated during wound healing, and are natural antibiotics. Finally, she speaks about "excretions from sores". The only type of psoriasis that produces "excretions" is pustular psoriasis, and those excretions contain white blood cells, not germs. It's true of course that psoriasis plaque can crack and bleed, and nobody should enter a pool if they have an open cut or sore that is bleeding - whether they have psoriasis or not.

In regard to swimming pools in general: Almost anything you can think of can fall into an outdoor swimming pool, but all swimming pools - indoor and outdoor - have other human beings swimming in them. Unless every swimmer is wearing a hermetically sealed swim suit, every inch of every body of every swimmer is exposed to the water. Additionally, people who swim tend to get water in their eyes, their mouths and their nostrils. This is why they put chlorine in pool water and use filters. There are undoubtedly health risks associated with swimming pools, but I'm not an expert in that area. What I do know is that among those risks that exist, psoriasis is not one of them.

Which brings us to the issue of life guards and health departments. Call any department of dermatology of any teaching hospital, and ask if psoriasis is contagious or poses a risk at public events or swimming pools. The answer you will get is always "No!". In fact, try searching online for the terms "psoriasis" and "pool". You'll find numerous letters and articles by physicians from around the world decrying discrimination of people with psoriasis at swimming pools as being the product of ignorance.

Departments of public health are required to rely on the latest medical science to formulate their policies. If lifeguards are governed by those policies, then they do not have the discretion to ban someone from a swimming pool merely because that person has psoriasis. As you can see from the stories being posted here, people with psoriasis are still being discriminated against at some swimming facilities. That is probably why the Foundation created their campaign - because it takes time for new knowledge (even if "new" means less then 20 years) to trickle down to the point where the majority of the general public is aware of it.

Out of curiosity I tried searching online for public health department proclamations on psoriasis and swimming pools. The only one I could find was the following 86 page PDF file from a web site in Canada:

<a href="http://"http://www.healthspace.ca/Clients/VCHA/CoastGaribaldi/CoastGa ribaldi_Website.nsf/e8db9633a9d595f988256b36000d14e7/210bfd06baf7620d88256f 7f007e6469/$FILE/poolman03.pdf"">http://www.healthspace.ca/Clients/VCHA/CoastGaribaldi/CoastGaribaldi_Websit e.nsf/e8db9633a9d595f988256b36000d14e7/210bfd06baf7620d88256f7f007e6469/$FI LE/poolman03.pdf</a>

If you look at page 3 of the document (page 9 of the complete pdf) you'll see an illustration of a person and of all the potentially communicable diseases associated with different parts of the body. Psoriasis isn't mentioned, except in a little gray box at the bottom of the illustration which contains the following text: "Note: Allergies, psoriasis, chloramine irritations are not spread from person to person." That says it all.

One other point worth mentioning: The Foundation's campaign takes aim at discrimination around swimming pools - which does not necessarily involve swimming. People with psoriasis have been ejected from the premises of swimming pools - in other words barred from even sun bathing or sitting in chairs around a pool - for esthetic reasons, supposedly because the sight of them disturbs other pool patrons. If that isn't "discrimination", then the word has no meaning.

So I hope that everyone takes Pat's post with a grain of salt. I'm guessing that she swam competitively and was a life guard decades ago, because decades ago the perceptions and beliefs that she is expressing were probably close to the norm. Thank goodness those perceptions are changing to be more in line with with what medical researchers now know about the disease - much credit to the National Psoriasis Foundation.

And finally Pat, I have a point of etiquette to pick with you. The Foundation's campaign is aimed at reducing discrimination around pools, which is often directed at children with psoriasis. In fact, if you go to the web site of the campaign: http://www.freetogetinthepool.org/ you'll see a depiction of a child at a pool being pointed at by other children. In your message you wrote:

it is pretty scuzzy to expect healthy people NOT to react to swimming around in water that has our flaked off skin and excretions from sores in it

I think that the term "scuzzy" and children with psoriasis do not belong in the same universe, let alone the same discussion. I hope you agree, and that it was merely a poor choice of words on your part. Hopefully we can all get on the same page, and together back the Foundation's campaign.

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** Originally posted by Kimbercat **

<CENTER>BRAVO ED!!!</CENTER>

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** Originally posted by LoElyse **

lighthouse-

uhhhh are you sure you have PSORIASIS? jeez how could you say something so.... wrong?! thanks ed for getting the facts straight, hope this woman reads your response because that ****** me off... I hate people who run their mouths with the wrong facts

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** Originally posted by Ant375 **

I completely agree with Ed and the others your assessment seems to promote the "gross" stigma that we all have to deal with on a daily basis. I work in retail sales and deal with the public and am subject to their questions and assertions when they see my P on a daily basis. I would never, never suggest that we change our behaviors to suit or appease anyone who feels as though we are any less of a person then they are. I appreciate your opinion however I feel you should take a close look at what you've written and realize the impact it has on everyone that reads it.

As for me I'm going swimming.....P and all!!!!!!!! Cannonball!!!!!!!!!!

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** Originally posted by S-Star-Raw **

Lighthouse...--Descrimination,,,!!

In my oppinion,, even though you where a life gaurd,, you are discriminating , look at it from the person with psoriasis's point of view, where they feel about 2 inch tall.

HOW ABOUT PEOPLE WITH COUGHS, YOU SEE THEM SWIMING, AND PEOPLE WITH VERUCAS, OR PEOPLE WITH BLISTERS, OR CUTS, OR GRAZES, THE LIST IS

ENDLESS!

i have psoriasis myself and was bullied about it all through my childhood (just about ) and know how it feels to be pointed at or turned down for things,, why dont you be a bit more considerate, and a little less ignorant, read up about psoriasis its not a contagious desease you know!

if people with psoriasis cant go, what about people with EXCEMA(how ever you spell it?)

lots more people have excema than psoriasis, so can they go ,because its kinda the same,,:confused:

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** Originally posted by Rocheyb **

Ant375,

I would take it as an extreme personal favour if prior to jumping in the pool whilst shouting "Cannonball" you would grow a particularly inappropriate moustache (is there any other kind?) and declare to all present that you have a very important news flash. Class.

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** Originally posted by 663roberta **

Hi Karin, I was saddened to hear about your experience, that must have made you feel hopeless and frustrated. While I haven't have an experience like that up to this time I can understand how terrible it must make you feel. However the world is full of ignorant people and behind it isn't badness, its just lack of knowledge. It should be up to swimmingpool mamagement to inform themselves of whats what and make rules regarding that. Everyone loses dead skin all the time even with out P.

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** Originally posted by stametst **

Hi Karin, I was saddened to hear about your experience, that must have made you feel hopeless and frustrated. While I haven't have an experience like that up to this time I can understand how terrible it must make you feel. However the world is full of ignorant people and behind it isn't badness, its just lack of knowledge. It should be up to swimmingpool mamagement to inform themselves of whats what and make rules regarding that. Everyone loses dead skin all the time even with out P.

Yes, that is true but everyone needs to be considered. If you have open wounds with blood or pus coming out of them, it is not a good time to be in the pool. Also, it is a great way to spread infection. This past year I had a terrible STAPH infection; so I try to be considerate and inform people of this disease.

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** Originally posted by hhabbal **

lighthouse-

uhhhh are you sure you have PSORIASIS? jeez how could you say something so.... wrong?! thanks ed for getting the facts straight, hope this woman reads your response because that ****** me off... I hate people who run their mouths with the wrong facts

have question so u have ps how i understood do u have anyidea about this freking medezin prednison ???
sorry about my english anyway please write me back to my mail hhabbal@gmail.com

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** Originally posted by fish2find **

Karin, that is aweful to hear that happening, to think there is still such backward thinking is discouraging.

Lighthouse, I think your opinion is very wrong, based on your skin example we would now want to start checking folks for dandruff, better look at them feet for cracks, any kid with a scabbed knee or elbow and I could imagine you could fine tune the list down and pretty much rule out everyone.

But I think on the big picture I would have to ask, who drinks the pool water? OMG that person is needing the education, you could keep everyone out and still have a bird fly over and ... well you know. Did I mention the bugs?

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