Although summer is all about fun in the sun, a dip in the pool is also necessary to stay cool. Enjoying a germ-free swim is probably your number one priority – a major reason why pool chemicals like chlorine are added to the water. However, chlorine can also dry out the outer layer of your skin and make it less hydrated. To help protect your skin from chlorine irritation, follow these dermatologist-approved tips.
The effects of chlorine exposure on the skin
It’s easy to lose track of time while swimming – the water is so refreshing on those scorching hot days. But there are downsides to spending a lot of time in the pool.
Board-certified dermatologist Estee Williams, MD, describes the effects of chlorine exposure on the skin barrier at DermStore.com.
“Chlorine is added to swimming pools to disinfect and prevent the rise and spread of bacterial, viral and protozoan diseases,” she explains. “Due to its caustic nature (the ability to burn or destroy living tissue by chemical action), chlorine is a cause of irritant contact dermatitis, which is red, dry, itchy skin.” The term chlorine rash may ring a bell.
Do you need to avoid swimming pools altogether because chlorine isn’t always supportive of skin’s natural moisture levels? Not necessarily. Taking the right steps before and after swimming can help ensure that your skin stays hydrated and healthy.
How to protect your skin while swimming
The American Academy of Dermatology Association outlines steps to avoid summer skin problems on their website. Try following these three tips before jumping into the pool:
- Apply sunscreen before going out. Look for a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30+, and water resistance. Reapply approximately every two hours after swimming or sweating – following the directions on the bottle.
- Rinse the pool water off your skin. Take a shower immediately after getting out of the pool. Use lukewarm water and a mild cleanser or body wash designed for swimmers.
- Use a fragrance-free moisturizer within five minutes after a shower. Apply moisturizer after you’ve finished showering to trap water in your skin and keep it hydrated.
For extra protection, try a hydrating oil like Loumi Skincare’s Rose Glow Illuminating Face Oil (Purchased at LoumiSkincare.com, $36). Gently massage two to five drops of the oil into your face and neck after cleansing to keep your skin nourished all season long.
Spending time in the pool doesn’t have to harm your skin – use these tips and you’ll get nothing but enjoyment from this summer activity!