How Swimming Affects Your Allergies

How Swimming Affects Your Allergies

July 21, 2019

Swimming is one of the best activities out there, but for people with allergies, it could be a problem. Apart from the usual allergens outdoor such as pollen, dust, and mold, does it seem like you’re allergic to pool water itself? If so, it could be the pool’s chlorine.

If chlorine seems to make you itch, you may be sensitive to it, but not allergic. If your eyes seem to water and your skin itches when exposed to it, see an allergist to help you relieve the symptoms so you can enjoy swimming in pools again, especially this summer. 

Chlorine Congestion

Pools are notorious for spreading water-borne diseases like E-coli, giardia, and cryptosporidium. If you are sensitive to chlorine, you might experience the following mild reactions:

  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Hives or rashes
  • Asthma symptoms
  • Sneezing 
  • Runny nose

Severe reactions require urgent care to control the symptoms. If you have known allergies, chlorine might contribute to your flare-ups by irritating your nose, throat, and lungs. Even if you do not have allergies, chlorine can still inflame those areas, especially if you are a frequent swimmer. Chlorine also exacerbates symptoms especially if you have underlying asthma, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, or bronchospasm. 

There are several studies that contradict the relationship between asthma and chlorine. Either way, if you find that you cannot swim without reacting to chlorine, you may try doing the following:

  • Limit your time in the pool and shower immediately afterwards. Washing the chlorine off your skin will decrease your body’s exposure to it.
  • Try outdoor pools. Indoor pool areas trap chlorine gas inside, while outdoor pools allow the chlorine to disperse.
  • See an allergist. A professional can pinpoint your specific reaction and provide appropriate treatment for it, helping you swim comfortably. Treatment might be as simple as allergy medicine before swimming, prescription lotion, showering off after swimming, and switching to hypoallergenic swimsuits like the one we have here.
  • It might not be chlorine. Remember that the pool’s pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.8. Below or above these numbers can cause trouble for your skin and eyes.

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