Alleviating Dry Skin Caused by Chlorine Help for Swimmers

Published: 12th May 2006
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Summertime is just around the corner. Serious swimmers are already hard at work training for the next summer Olympics and many Americans are thinking about swimming for fun. But every stroke they take in chlorinated water, and even the after-swim showers that allegedly remove the chlorine, damages their skin.

After having tried many of the voluminous numbers of creams and lotions on the market, many swimmers have come to believe that dry and damaged skin is something they're just going to have to live with. But experts now agree that a recent breakthrough in skin care, a shielding lotion, can give swimmers the protection they need.

Chlorine is a very toxic chemical. Yet, it has been used in water systems to combat disease for over 100 years when it was first added to public water to fight cholera and typhoid. As the disease levels decreased, chlorine became more widely used, and in higher concentrations. But the same harshness and toxicity that killed the pathogens and bacteria, also strips the skin of its protective layer, causing it to be extremely dry and itchy, leading to cracking, premature aging, wrinkles and eczema and inhibiting the skin's vital function of protecting the body from absorption of environmental toxins, like chlorine.

After-swim showers can be equally as damaging. Swimmers are advised that showering immediately afterwards removes the chlorine from the skin, but there is at least as much chlorine in the shower water as the pool - which damages your skin even further. Additionally, the heat and steam from the shower opens the pores, allowing even greater absorption through the damaged skin. Chlorine also combines with water and steam to form chloroform which can cause respiratory conditions that work directly against a swimmer's efforts. One study found that over one quarter of swim-team members suffer from some degree of asthma due to chlorine inhalation.

For a swimmer, complete protection from chlorine is all but impossible although there are products on the market that disinfect pools without the use of chlorine, they are not in wide use. However, you could install a filter on your shower nozzle at home, and wait until you get home to take your shower.

But the most important place to begin is with an effective dry skin treatment. A shielding lotion bonds with the skin to form a protective barrier that won't wash off. If you use it before swimming and showering, it will prevent the chlorine from drying the skin, and preserve the skin's integrity so it can prevent absorption.


Author, Len Simpson contributes articles on skin care for the National Skin Care Institute. For more information, visit

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