Do you ever find that your skin is red, blotchy, dry or irritated after a bath or shower? Do you avoid swimming pools like the plague because they tend to make your eczema worse?
Chlorine is a strong disinfectant, added to sanitise our water supplies and swimming pools. Its benefits are clear; after all, who wants to drink or swim in water filled with bacteria? But when chlorine comes into contact with the skin, it can have a drying, abrasive effect. If you have a skin condition like dryness, eczema or dermatitis, exposure to chlorine could make it even worse.
The relationship between chlorine and eczema
It’s important to note that eczema and other associated skin conditions are highly individual. Some people even find that a mild bleach bath can help with their eczema, although as a general rule we do not recommend this. Others might find that swimming, bathing and showering in chlorinated water has no ill effects whatsoever on their skin condition. However, in our 25 years’ experience of working with people with eczema, irritation from chlorine appears to be a very common problem.
Studies have demonstrated that free residual chlorine may play a role in the development or worsening of atopic dermatitis (the most common form of eczema). For example, this study found that the water-holding capacity of the upper layer of the skin in patients with eczema was more sensitive to free residual chlorine than patients without eczema.
Irritant contact dermatitis can also occur when the skin comes into direct contact with chlorine. Some people are more sensitive to this chemical than others, but characteristic symptoms may include a dry, itchy rash.
Since chlorine tends to dehydrate the skin, many people find that simply removing chlorine from their bathing water can have a really beneficial effect on their symptoms.
How can you reduce your skin’s exposure to chlorine?
In the bath
To enjoy chlorine-free water on tap, a whole house water filter is an excellent investment. You can find out more about these units here. For a cheaper, travel-friendly solution, the Rainshowr Crystal Ball Bath Dechlorinator is a hugely popular option. Simply hang the ball on the bath tap to allow incoming water to flow over it. Once your bath is full, swirl your Crystal Ball through the water for a few minutes to reduce chlorine and chloramines by 90%! The special KDF filter media inside the ball contains copper, zinc and quartz, which converts chlorine into a harmless chloride.
In the shower
To enjoy a relaxing, chlorine-free shower, you can either use a whole house water filter (see the full range here) or one of our dedicated shower filters. Available in a variety of designs and for a range of water pressures, these portable units can be fitted in minutes and remove up to 99% of chlorine (depending on the model). See all of our shower filters here.
In the swimming pool
Aside from wearing a full scuba suit, it’s almost impossible (not to mention unhygienic!) to avoid contact with chlorine in a public swimming pool. If you’re having an eczema flare-up or your skin condition is very severe, you may want to avoid swimming. The National Eczema Society suggests that, if you’re swimming in an indoor pool, an emollient ointment applied before swimming can act as an effective barrier. If you’re swimming outdoors, they advise applying your emollient approximately 30 minutes before your suncream, to help protect your skin against burning.
We find that the Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF30 is generally well tolerated by sensitive skin, with no ‘nasty’ ingredients.
Straight after your swim, shower thoroughly with gentle toiletries. Use the ones you have been prescribed or what works well for your skin. Looking for a way to gently remove residual chlorine and chemicals from your hair? The Green People Sensitive haircare products contain nourishing organic ingredients (and no ‘nasties’) to leave hair glossy, soft and shiny.
Throughout your whole home
If you want chlorine-free water throughout your home, a whole house water filter is the answer! A permanent, plumbed-in solution, all of our whole house water filters contain at least one carbon block filter. This removes up to 99.99% of chlorine and organic compounds. Units with heavy metal filters are also available. Click here to find out more.
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Study from the Journal of Dermatology
Eczema and Swimming Factsheet | National Eczema Society
Disclaimer: Information included in this blog post is intended for information purposes only and is not to be used as a substitute for consultation with a medical practitioner. Images not necessarily to scale.
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