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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Chlorine vs. Seawater: How to protect your skin while swimming

Apr 28, 2024 09:32AM ● By Suzy Cohen

In Colorado, our community pools open in late May and remain open for swimming until September. While I only swim there a few times during the season, I frequently use my hot tub, particularly during the cold or snowy winter months.

However, the chlorinated water in the hot tub can make my skin dry, itchy and “pruney.”

Swimming in the ocean waters of Cancun recently sparked my curiosity about the effects of chlorine exposure and how they compare to those of seawater, especially since I had to exit the water almost immediately due to sargassum seaweed, which harbors tiny organisms that irritate my skin.

Chlorine is a common disinfectant used in swimming pools to eliminate harmful bacteria, ensuring a relatively germ-free swimming experience. However, it can quickly strip away the skin’s natural oils, leading to dryness, dehydration and sometimes an itchy, flaky texture.

In contrast, ocean saltwater has historically been used for its therapeutic properties, but its high salt concentration can also cause dehydration and dryness.

Both chlorine and saltwater can worsen conditions like eczema and psoriasis by disrupting the skin’s barrier function, which helps protect the body from environmental elements.

Navigating aquatic terrain can be tricky. Here are some tips to enjoy swimming while minimizing potential skin problems:

1. Rinse thoroughly after a swim: Always take a quick shower after swimming in a pool or hot tub, especially at home or in hotels, to remove any residual chlorine or salt.

2. Moisturize: Hydrate your skin using a lightweight moisturizer. 

3. Monitor skin changes: If you notice a rash, bumps or redness after swimming in a pool with insufficient chlorine, seek treatment promptly to prevent it from worsening.

4. Use skincare supplements: For those prone to dry skin or itchiness, consider using a quality skincare supplement. I custom-formulated DermaScript to deliver healing and soothing probiotics. You can learn more on my website.

5. Protect your skin from the sun: Premature aging can be exacerbated by the sun’s UVA/UVB rays. Always wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat for protection.

6. Avoid sargassum seaweed: If you’re an ocean swimmer, steer clear of areas with sargassum seaweed, which is typically found on Atlantic beaches.

With a touch of care and a splash of awareness, you can enjoy the best of both aquatic worlds. Happy swimming! 

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