Swimming with a Chlorine Allergy

Swimming with a Chlorine Allergy

June 20, 2018

Swimming is perhaps the best form of exercise for anyone at any age. It exercises all your muscles and your lungs without putting too much pressure on your knees or any of your other joints. It is also refreshing since the cooling sensation of the water won’t make you feel like you ran a marathon. But there are times when taking too many laps in the swimming pool may lead to uncomfortable situations like rashes appearing on your whole body. When this happens it means that you might be developing an allergy to chlorine or at least a sensitive skin to it.

Symptoms of chlorine allergy are itchy rashes, runny nose and sneezing. But it’s actually misleading to label this condition as an allergy to chlorine because according to allergists people who experience rashes and sneezing fits have underlying problems that are being aggravated by the chlorine in the pool.

Oftentimes, people who develop sneezing fits or rashes after swimming have underlying asthma, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) or bronchospasm and not a direct allergic reaction to chlorine.

Excessive exposure

According to experts, swimmers don’t immediately get rashes once they dip their toes in the swimming pool. Repeated swimming in chlorinated pools can lead a person to develop rashes due to being exposed to chlorine on a regular basis. Pools with high concentration of chlorine can also trigger a reaction on some people. One person even had his hair turn white and his whole body smell like chlorine for days after repeatedly swimming in pools with high levels of chlorine. Fortunately, there is an easy way to avoid having an allergic reaction to chlorine.

Minimize exposure

You can avoid getting rashes, runny nose and sneezing fits by simply avoiding too much exposure to chlorine and for those who are avid swimmers that doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding the pool altogether. If swimming is your passion or if you’re training to be a competitive swimmer one of the ways you can avoid getting rashes is to wash it away right after getting out of the pool.

Experts advise swimmers to wash the chlorine vigorously since this chemical tends to bond with the skin and hair quite well. Although even if swimmers wash their whole body vigorously there will still be some amount of chlorine that will remain in the skin since our bodies can easily absorb this chemical. According to one expert, what swimmers can do is to rinse their bodies with vitamin C.

According to Dr. Andrew Chadeayne, a chemist and avid swimmer, chlorine oxidizes our hair and skin and vitamin C, being an antioxidant, will neutralize the chlorine that remained in our bodies and then it will be easier to wash it off.

Other treatments include lathering hydrocortisone creams on the affected areas, but doctors warn swimmers not to use this on their faces as it will make the skin there thinner and it might even get into the eyes and mouth. If hives sprout on your skin after a swim use any cream with diphenhydramine or take in any medicine with diphenhydramine in it like Benadryl.

A preventive method is to lather Vaseline on your body before you jump into the pool. The Vaseline will serve as a barrier between your skin and the chlorine in the pool. If swimming is your favourite hobby or exercise there are several ways to avoid getting allergic reactions from your preferred activity without having to avoid it entirely.

Just avoid too much exposure to chlorine and take note of the treatments above and you can swim anytime your inner mermaid/merman longs for the water.

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