Ever get red, blotchy, itchy rash after swimming in a pool or hot tub? It’s called, “swimming pool rash” or “hot tub rash” and is very irritating. Chlorine or other chemicals dry out the skin and cause an eczema based rash.
Swimming and summer go together. But if you’re swimming in a chlorinated pool, you’re absorbing lots of chlorine through your skin and your skin may be suffering from it. Skin naturally absorbs water, along with everything in that water. If there are high levels of chlorine in the water, your skin can’t stop it from soaking in.
Chlorine is a caustic chemical used in industry and household cleaning products. It is also used to disinfect water in swimming pools and as a pesticide. Scientists consider chlorine one of the most toxic elements found in nature.
According to the New York State Department of Health:
What happens to chlorine in the body?
When chlorine enters the body as a result of breathing, swallowing, or skin contact, it reacts with water to produce acids. The acids are corrosive and damage cells in the body on contact.
What are the immediate health effects of chlorine exposure?
Most harmful chlorine exposures are the result of inhalation. Health effects typically begin within seconds to minutes. Following chlorine exposure, the most common symptoms are:
- Airway irritation
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Chest tightness
- Eye irritation
- Skin irritation
The severity of health effects depend upon the route of exposure, the dose and the duration of exposure to chlorine. Breathing high levels of chlorine causes fluid build-up in the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary edema. The development of pulmonary edema may be delayed for several hours after exposure to chlorine. Contact with compressed liquid chlorine may cause frostbite of the skin and eyes.
Harmful Health effects of Chlorine
Chlorine is a toxic gas that irritates the respiratory system. Because it is heavier than air, it tends to accumulate at the bottom of poorly ventilated spaces. Chlorine gas is a strong oxidizer, which may react with flammable materials.
Chlorine is detectable in concentrations of as low as 0.2 ppm. Coughing and vomiting may occur at 30 ppm and lung damage at 60 ppm. About 1000 ppm can be fatal after a few deep breaths of the gas. Breathing lower concentrations can aggravate the respiratory system, and exposure to the gas can irritate the eyes. The toxicity of chlorine comes from its oxidizing power. When chlorine is inhaled at concentrations above 30 ppm, it begins to react with water and cells, which change it into hydrochloric acid (HCl) and hypochlorous acid (HClO).
When used at specified levels for water disinfection, the reaction of chlorine with water is not a major concern for human health. However, other materials present in the water may generate disinfection by-products that can damage human health.
It can also cause problems with the thyroid gland and very dry, irritated, itchy skin. Some of the effects might not be to chlorine but to chloramines. These are compounds that are formed when chlorine burns up dirt in the water or on your skin.
Chlorine gas is especially harmful to the respiratory system. In a swimming pool, most of the chlorine gas sit on top of the water – the very air swimmers breathe. This, in conjuction with the chlorine that gets absorbed through the skin, creates quite a load of chlorine for the body.
Chlorine is use more commonly in pools. Bromine is another type of bleach that is more commonly used in most hot tubs because it withstands heat better then chlorine. More people become allergic to brominde that to chlorine, although the reactions are very much the same.
How to Avoid the Harmful Effects of Chlorine or Bromine
Swim in non-chlorinated areas, or in low-chlorine pools, such as salt-water purified or other safer means of purification.
Washing off thoroughly after swimming helps, but doesn’t do anything about all the chlorine that has already been absorbed.
Using skin protection products only expose you to more chemicals as they are made of chemicals. Their effectiveness stems from bonding temporarily to the surface of the skin to act as a barrier preventing the chlorine from entering the skin but most are extremely harmful in their own right.
The Natural Approach to Reducing Chlorine Skin Absorption
Here are several suggestions you can do to protect yourself from absorbing chlorine when swimming:
- Protect Your Skin with Cel-Lite Magic Massage Oil – Use is as a body lotion and apply a thin layer all over the body. Only a small amount is needed, not a heavy “greasy” coating. And if you need to rinse off before entering the pool, don’t worry – a quick rinse won’t wash it off.
- Shower off after swimming with Lavender Bath and Shower Gel and Lavender Mint Daily Shampoo to gently remove contaminants, nourish and restore your skin and hair’s natural balance.
- Eliminate the toxins already absorbed into the body – Young Living’s ICP – Colon Cleanse Supplement and/or Balance Complete – absorb many times their weight in toxins.
- Diffuse with top quality essential oils – Getting a stuffy nose after swimming in a chlorinated pool is common and is called swimmer’s sinusitis. Its caused by getting chlorinated water into the sinuses and can be quite irritating. Doctors recommend drinking plenty of water to keep the mucus membranes well hydrated and thin enough to remain flexible. Drinking plenty of water also allows the sinuses to drain properly. Using a sinus spray containing chemicals can backfire as it can over-dry and irritate the delicate sinus membranes more deeply over time.
- Protect your thyroid from harmful contaminants – Young Living’s Thyromin helps protect you from harmful contaminants, such as chlorine, as well as many others. Take one capsule at bedtime or upon rising before and after swimming days. Even better, take it every night to increase energy and balance the endocrine system (adults only).
- Its far better to diffuse with therapeutic-grade essential oils such as the RC Essential Oil Blend which contains the soothing oils of three different eucalyptus, pine, lavender and more. A treatment that can be used any time of year for stuffy noses or sinuses.
Use warm, not hot water and air dry your hair – or at least use cool air to dry it. Dryer air plus swimming in chlorine plus hot water showers can cause rashes.
If you suffer more serious effects from chlorine, you may be one of the few people allergic to it. In that case, see your doctor as soon as symptoms occur. Although sensitivity to chlorine is common, true allergies to chlorine are rare, but serious.
More commonly, people suffer dry, itchy skin and rashes, respiratory problems and dried out hair. Use the tips above to help your body deal naturally with the harmful effects of chlorine and prevent chlorine rash (swimming pool rash) and chlorine irritation.