As the temperature rises, the urge to go swimming increases as people look for ways to cool down. For those with sensitive skin, the extra time spent in the water in the warmer months can have a harsh effect on the skin. This is largely due to the high amounts of chlorine in public pools.
Whilst it is useful for controlling the bacteria in public pools, it can cause high amount of skin irritation. It is cheap, readily available, and easy to add to water, so its usage is quite high compared to other chemicals. Chlorine is a fantastic antiseptic so its highly effective at killing the harmful bacteria you wouldn’t want in or on your body and reduces the risk of swimmers getting athletes foot, diarrhoea, or other bacterial or fungal rashes. Its even effective enough at swimming pool dilution to neutralize an enveloped virus like Covid-19. However, for those with sensitive skin or eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, chlorine can exacerbate a flare-up, leaving the skin itchy and sore. It is commonly known as the chlorine itch and is definitely worth avoiding if possible!
Chlorine damages the skins natural oily barrier, leaving your skin vulnerable to inflammatory reactions and losing essential moisture to the air. The issue with chlorine being such an effective antibacterial and antiviral agent is that the same properties that allow it to break apart viral bonds can also damage skin. It is an irritant substance, one that can damage the skin barrier and trigger an inflammatory response, leading to itchiness, swelling, spots or rashes.
The effects chlorine has on sensitive skin:
- Dries out skin by increasing trans epidermal water loss
- Triggers an inflammatory response and histamine release, leading to itchiness
- Exacerbates existing skin issues such as eczema or psoriasis
- Can cause burns on the skin if the gases build up in a poorly ventilated building
Six steps to manage chlorine rash:
- Shower before getting into the pool as damp skin and hair won’t absorb as much chlorine
- Wear a swim cap and goggles to minimize exposure to eyes and scalp.
- Wash off pool water very thoroughly afterwards. However, be careful not to rub to harshly just let the water run over your body.
- Apply Grahams Bath and Body oil to the skin to help wash off when showering.
- Apply Grahams C+ Eczema Cream to the skin straight after showering (within three minutes) to towel dried (PAT don’t rub!) but still slightly damp skin as this will help the product absorb better.
- Wash your swimming costume or trunks thoroughly to get rid of any lingering chlorinated water
Chlorine Exposure & Children
It’s a dilemma for many parents, whether to take their baby with sensitive skin swimming or not, given that swimming pools can trigger uncomfortable rashes. While swimming can be a wonderful activity for babies and toddlers; getting them used to the water and learning to swim is not just an enjoyable opportunity for parent-child bonding but can be passing on life-saving skills! However, chlorine can be very harsh on young children’s skin especially if the child suffers from eczema. It is also important to remember that all children’s skin is different and will react differently to chlorine so trial many methods!
Here are five top tips to managing children in chlorinated pools:
- Limit their time in the water as the longer the contact with chlorinated water the more likely the reaction as it dries the skin out. Half an hour is good estimate and that way they will get the benefit of going swimming but reduce the likelihood of a rash afterwards!
- Ensure they are hydrated before and after swimming, with plenty of water or milk. This will help keep the skin hydrated and allow it to stave off damage.
- Moisturize all over with Grahams Baby Eczema Cream, especially on any sore or dry patches before
- Wash off chlorinated water very thoroughly immediately after swimming with a warm (not hot!) shower and use Grahams Baby Body and Bath Oil to assist the cleaning process.
- Moisturize thoroughly again, after the shower. Ensure the skin is patted dry and not rubbed dry as this can cause further irritation. Apply Grahams Baby Eczema Cream again to damp skin which will lock in the moisture and keep the skin in good, healthy, and resilient condition.
We hope these tips help get you in the water more often in the coming warmer months and prevent the dreaded chlorine rash or flare-ups of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea.