It’s your body’s first line of defense. It protects you from viruses, bacteria and more, but it needs your help. If you’ve been swimming in chlorinated water, you’re damaging an integral part of your immune system and causing your skin to show age well beyond its years. Take heed and listen to why your skin wants an alternative to chlorine pools.
The Distress Call
If your skin has any of these symptoms after swimming, it’s likely a result of the chemicals used to maintain the water.
Why It Happens
The top layer of your skin is called the stratum corneum. It’s your first layer of protection and it keeps moisture locked in so your skin stays supple, healthy and unblemished. A PubMed study noted that in less than ten minutes, chlorinated water impeded the stratum corneum’s ability to hold water in. As the concentration increased, the amount of water able to be held decreased. In other words, it caused dry skin. This means that the more you swim, or the higher the chlorine content, greater damage is caused.
On a deeper level, your skin also has sebaceous glands. These produce oil called sebum, which is what makes your hair shiny and your skin soft. Chlorinated water not only strips away protective sebum, but can also cause the glands to start overproducing oil. This results in a cocktail of both dry and oily, acne-prone skin.
How You Can Help
Your first step should be to find an alternative to chlorine pools, so you can avoid the complications altogether. An ionizer is an ideal choice, because it reduces the need to have harsh chemicals. However, once the damage is done, there are a few things you can do to help repair it. It’s always best to rinse away chemical residue with fresh water as soon as possible after contact. Afterward, be sure to apply an all-over moisturizer. Places like your hands and face can be especially sensitive to the harmful, aging-effects of chlorine. Using a specialized moisturizer in those areas will help the skin balance itself out quicker. If you experience breakouts as a result, treat your skin gently. Cleanse it regularly to keep pores clear, apply medications as needed, and always apply moisturizer after you wash. Whatever you do, don’t pick! This only stresses your skin further and allows bacteria to enter your body. Simply give it what it needs to heal and protect it from additional damage.
Swimming is an excellent form of fitness, so don’t let chemicals keep you out of the water. Whenever possible, select a swim site that avoids chemicals and nourish your skin to keep it happy. It just might call and thank you.
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