Does Swimming Make Your Skin Dry and Itchy
by Norman Levine, MD
Chlorine isn't what's causing your problem. Being immersed in water for long periods of time is what's making your skin feel uncomfortably dry.
I love to swim, but the chlorine in the water makes my skin dry and itchy. What can I do?
First of all, you need to understand that the chlorine isn't what's causing your problem. Being immersed in water for long periods of time is what's making your skin feel uncomfortably dry.
Chlorine may seem harsh, but the amount diluted in a swimming pool doesn't have much of an effect on skin. Water, though, removes the thin layer
of surface oil on skin that normally locks in moisture. Without that protective layer, fluid in the skin and surrounding cells evaporates rapidly, drying the skin. Lack of moisture also causes tiny fissures to develop, allowing the skin to become irritated and itchy.
Swimming can also take a toll on hair, but, again, chlorine isn't the culprit.
Water is responsible for drying out the hair, and copper, which leaches out from pool pipes, is what can cause blond hair to turn green.
There are several chlorine-removal soaps and gels on the market, but because chlorine isn't the problem, they aren't likely to work magic on your skin. (On the other hand, anti-chlorine shampoos with chelating agents will remove damaging copper from your hair.)
You'll have better luck if you replace the lost layer of oil with a lubricating cream or lotion. Lotions, because they're thinner than creams, are easier to apply. But if your skin is extremely dry, a cream will give you more protection. Whichever lubricant you choose, the best time to apply it is after showering, when your skin is still slightly damp. In the winter, when dry air tends to worsen the problem,
you may want to smooth on some cream or lotion several times throughout the day.
**Norman Levine, MD, is a professor and the chief of dermatology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is the author of Skin Healthy, a consumer's guide to skin care.
For skin moisturizing:
Kukui Nut Oil, Natural Seaweed Body Creams
or Coconut Oil Lotion
All three are an excellent choice for moisturizing.
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