Frequent swimming in pools has noticeable effects on your skin and hair. Most swimming pools contain chlorine, a gaseous element that helps keep the pool free of bacteria and debris. Undiluted chlorine is highly toxic and caustic. Although the chlorine in a well-maintained pool may sting and irritate your eyes, there isn't enough to seriously harm you. Before and after swimming, take some steps to protect your skin and hair, especially if you swim regularly 14.
Chlorine is very drying for your hair 15. When the hair becomes wet with chlorinated water, the hair shafts absorb the chlorine, which strips the hair of its natural lubricant, called sebum. If you swim frequently, the repeated drying can cause your hair's protective cuticles to crack, which leads to split ends and frequent breaking of strands.
Protect your hair before swimming by getting it wet with clean water first, which impregnates the hair shafts and keeps them from absorbing chlorine 14. You can also coat your hair and scalp with conditioner or oil. A swimming cap offers some protection from chlorinated water, plus it keeps longer hair out of your way while swimming 1. Wash your hair immediately after swimming to remove as much chlorine as possible.
- Chlorine is very drying for your hair 1.
- Protect your hair before swimming by getting it wet with clean water first, which impregnates the hair shafts and keeps them from absorbing chlorine 1.
How to Get Rid of Green Pool Hair
Swimming in a chlorinated pool can dry out your skin and make it feel tight and itchy because the chlorine strips your skin of its natural oils 1. People with sensitive skin might even get irritation or a rash from the pool's drying effects. Chlorine also can exacerbate skin conditions like eczema. Protect your skin by applying oil or lotion before swimming 14. Many types of sunscreen contain oils that protect your skin from water, especially waterproof sunscreen formulated for swimming or heavy physical activity 14. After swimming, rinse or wash the chlorine from your skin as soon as possible, and use lotion or oil to rehydrate it 1. Keeping hydrated by drinking water before and after swimming also may help protect your skin 14.
Hair that takes on a greenish tint from swimming in chlorinated pools is a common phenomenon, especially in blonde and light-haired people. The color isn't caused by the chlorine itself, but by the chlorine's interaction with copper pipes and other metals. The chlorine causes small amounts of metal to enter the water and tint the hair. Once your hair has turned green from swimming, a shampoo designed for swimmers can help remove the color. Protecting your hair before swimming also will help prevent it from turning green 1.
- Hair that takes on a greenish tint from swimming in chlorinated pools is a common phenomenon, especially in blonde and light-haired people.
- Protecting your hair before swimming also will help prevent it from turning green 1.
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Skin Problems Following Chlorine Contact
- Free Drinking Water: Swimming and Chlorine: Protect Your Skin and Hair
- Health Services at Columbia: Chlorine Effects
- Health Guidance: Skin Care for Swimmers
- Hair Loss Expert: Protect Your Hair Whilst Swimming
- A 2 Z Health, Beauty and Fitness: How Does Chlorine Affect Your Hair?
- Novak-Bilić G, Vučić M, Japundžić I, Meštrović-Štefekov J, Stanić-Duktaj S, Lugović-Mihić L. Irritant and allergic contact dermatitis - skin lesion characteristics. Acta Clin Croat. 2018;57(4):713–720.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rashes. Reviewed May 4, 2016.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parasites - Cercarial Dermatitis (also known as Swimmer's Itch). Reviewed October 22, 2018.
- Rossetto AL, Da Silveira FL, Morandini AC, Haddad V, Resgalla C. Seabather's eruption: report of fourteen cases. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2015;87(1):431-6. doi:10.1590/0001-3765201520130468
- Chaumont A, Voisin C, Sardella A, Bernard A. "Interactions Between Domestic Water Hardness, Infant Swimming and Atopy in the Development of Childhood Eczema." Environmental Research. 2012 Jul;116:52-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.04.013.
- Gomà A, de Lluis R, Roca-Ferrer J, Lafuente J, Picado C. "Respiratory, Ocular and Skin Health in Recreational and Competitive Swimmers: Beneficial Effect of a New Method to Reduce Chlorine Oxidant Dervatives." Environmental Research. 2017 Jan;152:315-321. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.10.030.
- Khodaee M, Edelman GT, Spittler J, et. al. "Medical Care for Swimmers." Sports Medicine Open. 2016 Dec; 2: 27. DOI: 10.1186/s40798-016-0051-2.
- Salvaggio HL, Scheman AJ, Chamlin SL. "Shock Treatment: Swimming Pool Contact Dermatitis." Pediatric Dermatology. 2013 Jul-Aug;30(4):494-5. DOI: 10.1111/pde.12017.